Publications

1 The interplay of emotion expressions and strategy in promoting cooperation in the iterated prisoner's dilemma
de Melo, C., & Kazunori, T., Scientific Reports, 2020
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The iterated prisoner's dilemma has been used to study human cooperation for decades. The recent discovery of extortion and generous strategies renewed interest on the role of strategy in shaping behavior in this dilemma. But what if players could perceive each other's emotional expressions? Despite increasing evidence that emotion signals influence decision making, the effects of emotion in this dilemma have been mostly neglected. Here we show that emotion expressions moderate the effect of generous strategies, increasing or reducing cooperation according to the intention communicated by the signal; in contrast, expressions by extortionists had no effect on participants' behavior, revealing a limitation of highly competitive strategies. We provide evidence that these effects are mediated mostly by inferences about other's intentions made from strategy and emotion. These findings provide insight into the value, as well as the limits, of behavioral strategies and emotion signals for cooperation.

2 Human cooperation when acting through autonomous machines
de Melo, C., Marsella, S., & Gratch, J., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 116, 3482-3487, 2019
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Recent times have seen an emergence of intelligent machines that act autonomously on our behalf, such as autonomous vehicles. Despite promises of increased efficiency, it is not clear whether this paradigm shift will change how we decide when our self-interest (e.g., comfort) is pitted against the collective interest (e.g., environment). Here we show that acting through machines changes the way people solve these social dilemmas and we present experimental evidence showing that participants program their autonomous vehicles to act more cooperatively than if they were driving themselves. We show this happens because programming causes selfish short-term rewards to become less salient, leading to considerations of broader societal goals. We also show that the programmed behavior is influenced by past experience. Finally, we report evidence that the effect generalizes beyond the domain of autonomous vehicles. We discuss implications for designing autonomous machines that contribute to a more cooperative society.

3 Cooperation with autonomous machines through culture and emotion
de Melo, C., & Terada, K., PLOS ONE, 2019
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As machines that act autonomously on behalf of others–e.g., robots–become integral to society, it is critical we understand the impact on human decision-making. Here we show that people readily engage in social categorization distinguishing humans (“us”) from machines (“them”), which leads to reduced cooperation with machines. However, we show that a simple cultural cue–the ethnicity of the machine’s virtual face–mitigated this bias for participants from two distinct cultures (Japan and United States). We further show that situational cues of affiliative intent–namely, expressions of emotion–overrode expectations of coalition alliances from social categories: When machines were from a different culture, participants showed the usual bias when competitive emotion was shown (e.g., joy following exploitation); in contrast, participants cooperated just as much with humans as machines that expressed cooperative emotion (e.g., joy following cooperation). These findings reveal a path for increasing cooperation in society through autonomous machines.

4 Inferring intentions from emotion expressions in social decision making
Gratch, J., & de Melo, C., U. Hess, & S. Hareli (Eds.), The Social Nature of Emotion Expression, 141-160, 2019
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In the last decade we have seen increasing experimental evidence that people make important inferences from emotion expressions about others intentions in situations of interdependent decision making. Reverse appraisal has been proposed as one mechanism whereby people retrieve, from emotion displays, information about how others are appraising the ongoing interaction (e.g., does my counterpart find the current outcome to be goal conducive? Does s/he blame me for it?); in turn, from these appraisal attributions, people make inferences about the others' goals (e.g., is my counterpart likely to cooperate?) that shape their decision making. Here we review experimental evidence and progress that has been done in understanding this inferential mechanism and its relationship to other mechanisms for the interpersonal effects of emotion (e.g., emotional contagion and social appraisal). We discuss theoretical implications for our understanding of the role of emotion expression on human decision making, but also practical implications for the growing industry of socially intelligent machines (e.g., personal digital assistants and social robots).

5 People do not feel guilty about exploiting machines
de Melo, C., Marsella, S., & Gratch, J., ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 23, 2017
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Guilt and envy play an important role in social interaction. Guilt occurs when individuals cause harm to others or break social norms. Envy occurs when individuals compare themselves unfavorably to others and desire to benefit from the others’ advantage. In both cases, these emotions motivate people to act and change the status quo: following guilt, people try to make amends for the perceived transgression and, following envy, people try to harm envied others. In this paper, we present two experiments that study participants' experience of guilt and envy when engaging in social decision making with machines and humans. The results showed that, though experiencing the same level of envy, people felt considerably less guilt with machines than with humans. These effects occurred both with subjective and behavioral measures of guilt and envy, and in three different economic games: public goods, ultimatum, and dictator game. This poses an important challenge for human-computer interaction because, as shown here, it leads people to systematically exploit machines, when compared to humans. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for the design of human-machine interaction systems that hope to achieve the kind of efficiency – cooperation, fairness, reciprocity, etc. – we see in human-human interaction.

6 Reading people's minds from emotion expressions in interdependent decision making.
de Melo, C., Carnevale, P., Read, S., & Gratch, J., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(1), 73-88, 2014
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How do people make inferences about other people's minds from their emotion displays? The ability to infer others beliefs, desires and intentions from their facial expressions should be especially important in interdependent decision making when people make decisions from beliefs about the others' intention to cooperate. Five experiments tested the general proposition that people follow principles of appraisal when making inferences from emotion displays, in context. Experiment 1 found that the same emotion display produced opposite effects depending on context: when the other was competitive, a smile on the other's face evoked a more negative response than when the other was cooperative. Experiment 2 found that the essential information from emotion displays was derived from appraisals (e.g., is the current state-of-affairs conducive to my goals? Who is to blame for it?}, facial displays of emotion had the same impact on people's decision making as textual expressions of the corresponding appraisals. Experiments 3, 4 and 5 used multiple mediation analyses and a causal-chain design: Results supported the proposition that beliefs about others' appraisals mediate the effects of emotion displays on expectations about others' intentions. We suggest a model based on appraisal theories of emotion that posits an inferential mechanism whereby people retrieve, from emotion expressions, information about others' appraisals, which then lead to inferences about others' mental states. This work has implications for the design of algorithms that drive agent behavior in human-agent strategic interaction, an emerging domain at the interface of computer science and social psychology.

7 Using virtual confederates to research intergroup bias and conflict.
de Melo, C., Carnevale, P., & Gratch, J., Best Paper Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM 14), 2014
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Virtual confederates–i.e., three-dimensional virtual characters that look and act like humans–have been gaining in popularity as a research method in the social and medical sciences. Interest in this research method stems from the potential for increased experimental control, ease of replication, facilitated access to broader samples and lower costs. We argue that virtual confederates are also a promising research tool for the study of intergroup behavior. To support this claim we replicate and extend with virtual confederates key findings in the literature. In Experiment 1 we demonstrate that people apply racial stereotypes to virtual confederates, and show a corresponding bias in terms of money offered in the dictator game. In Experiment 2 we show that people also show an in-group bias when group membership is artificially created and based on interdependence through shared payoffs in a nested social dilemma. Our results further demonstrate that social categorization and bias can occur not only when people believe confederates are controlled by humans (i.e., they are avatars), but also when confederates are believed to be controlled by computer algorithms (i.e., they are agents). The results, nevertheless, show a basic bias in favor of avatars (the in-group in the “human category”) to agents (the out-group). Finally, our results (Experiments 2 and 3) establish that people can combine, in additive fashion, the effects of these social categories; a mechanism that, accordingly, can be used to reduce intergroup bias. We discuss implications for research in social categorization, intergroup bias and conflict.

8 The effect of expression of anger and happiness in computer agents on negotiations with humans.
de Melo, C., Carnevale, P., & Gratch, J., Proceedings of Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 11), 2011
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There is now considerable evidence in social psychology, economics, and related disciplines that emotion plays an important role in negotiation. For example, humans make greater concessions in negotiation to an opposing human who expresses anger, and they make fewer concessions to an opponent who expresses happiness, compared to a no-emotion-expression control. However, in AI, despite the wide interest in negotiation as a means to resolve differences between agents and humans, emotion has been largely ignored. This paper explores whether expression of anger or happiness by computer agents, in a multi-issue negotiation task, can produce effects that resemble effects seen in human-human negotiation. The paper presents an experiment where participants play with agents that express emotions (anger vs. happiness vs. control) through different modalities (text vs. facial displays). An important distinction in our experiment is that participants are aware that they negotiate with computer agents. The data indicate that the emotion effects observed in past work with humans also occur in agent-human negotiation, and occur independently of modality of expression. The implications of these results are discussed for the fields of automated negotiation, intelligent virtual agents and artificial intelligence.

9 Expression of emotions using wrinkles, blushing, sweating and tears.
de Melo, C., & Gratch, J., Proceedings of the Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA 09), 2009
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Wrinkles, blushing, sweating and tears are physiological manifestations of emotions in humans. Therefore, the simulation of these phenomena is important for the goal of building believable virtual humans which interact naturally and effectively with humans. This paper describes a real-time model for the simulation of wrinkles, blushing, sweating and tears. A study is also conducted to assess the influence of the model on the perception of surprise, sadness, anger, shame, pride and fear. The study follows a repeated-measures design where subjects compare how well is each emotion expressed by virtual humans with or without these phenomena. The results reveal a significant positive effect on the perception of surprise, sadness, anger, shame and fear. The relevance of these results is discussed for the fields of virtual humans and expression of emotions.

10 Modeling gesticulation expression in virtual humans.
de Melo, C., & Paiva, A., N. Magnenat-Thalmann, L. Jain, & N. Ichalkaranje (Eds.), New Advances in Virtual Humans, 133-151, 2008
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Gesticulation is the kind of unconscious, idiosyncratic and unconventional gestures humans do in conversation or narration. This chapter reviews efforts made to harness the expressiveness of gesticulation in virtual humans and proposes one such model. First, psycholinguistics research is overviewed so as to understand how gesticulation occurs in humans. Then, relevant computer graphics and computational psycholinguistics systems are reviewed. Finally, a model for virtual human gesticulation expression is presented which supports: (a) real-time gesticulation animation described as sequences of constraints on static (Portuguese Sign Language hand shapes, orientation palm axis, orientation angle and handedness) and dynamic features; (b) synchronization between gesticulation and synthesized speech; (c) automatic reproduction of annotations in GestuRA, a gesticulation transcription algorithm; (d) expression control through an abstract integrated synchronized language – Expression Markup Language (EML). Two studies, which were conducted to evaluate the model in a storytelling context, are also described.