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Two Techniques for Assessing Virtual Agent Personality

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Personality can be assessed with standardized inventory questions with scaled responses such as "How extraverted is this character?" or with open-ended questions assessing first impressions, such as "What personality does this character convey?" Little is known about how the two methods compare to each other, and even less is known about their use in the personality assessment of virtual agents. We tested what personality virtual agents conveyed through gesture alone when the agents were programmed to display introversion versus extraversion (Experiment 1) and high versus low emotional stability (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, both measures indicated participants perceived the extraverted agent as extraverted, but the open-question technique highlighted the perception of both agents as highly agreeable whereas the inventory indicated that the extraverted agents were also perceived as more open to new experiences. In Experiment 2, participants perceived agents expressing high versus low emotional stability differently depending on assessment style. With inventory questions, the agents differed on both emotional stability and agreeableness. With the open-ended question, participants perceived the high stability agent as extraverted and the low stability agent as disagreeable. Inventory and open-ended questions provide different information about what personality virtual agents convey and both may be useful in agent development.

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