The empathic companion: A character-based interface that addresses users' affective states

Helmut Prendinger*, Mitsuru Ishizuka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we report on our efforts in developing affective character-based interfaces, i.e., interfaces that recognize and measure affective information of the user and address user affect by employing embodied characters. In particular, we describe the Empathic Companion, an animated interface agent that accompanies the user in the setting of a virtual job interview. This interface application takes physiological data (skin conductance and electromyography) of a user in realtime, interprets them as emotions, and addresses the user's affective states in the form of empathic feedback. The Empathic Companion is conceived as an educational agent that supports job seekers preparing for a job interview. We also present results from an exploratory study that aims to evaluate the impact of the Empathic Companion by measuring users' skin conductance and heart rate. While an overall positive effect of the Empathic Companion could not be shown, the outcome of the experiment suggests that empathic feedback has a positive effect on the interviewee's stress level while hearing the interviewer question.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-285
Number of pages19
JournalApplied Artificial Intelligence
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Mar
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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