Using Psychological Characteristics of Situations for Social Situation Comprehension in Support Agents

Kola, Ilir, Jonker, Catholijn M., van Riemsdijk, M. Birna

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence 

Support agents that help users in their daily lives need to take into account not only the user's characteristics, but also the social situation of the user. Existing work on including social context uses some type of situation cue as an input to information processing techniques in order to assess the expected behavior of the user. However, research shows that it is important to also determine the meaning of a situation, a step which we refer to as social situation comprehension. We propose using psychological characteristics of situations, which have been proposed in social science for ascribing meaning to situations, as the basis for social situation comprehension. Using data from user studies, we evaluate this proposal from two perspectives. First, from a technical perspective, we show that psychological characteristics of situations can be used as input to predict the priority of social situations, and that psychological characteristics of situations can be predicted from the features of a social situation. Second, we investigate the role of the comprehension step in human-machine meaning making. We show that psychological characteristics can be successfully used as a basis for explanations given to users about the decisions of an agenda management personal assistant agent.