Computational Approaches to Nonverbal Communication: Personality Synthesis and Interaction in Embodied VR

Day - Time: 05 November 2018, h.11:00
Place: Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa - Room: C-29
  • Michael Neff (Depart of Computer Science and Department of Cinema and Digital Media - University of California, Davis, CA - USA)

Roberto Scopigno


This talk will discuss two different bodies of work. The first part of the talk will examine how nonverbal communication, and in particular gesture, conveys personality to observers. Our work is framed using the Five Factor or OCEAN model of personality from social psychology. Drawing both from the psychology literature and primary perceptual research, I'll show how movement changes impact perceived character personality. I'll look at particular movement changes that influence personality traits and also show that in many cases, people may be making two distinct personality judgments, rather than five, as would be expected for the five factor personality model. The second part of the talk will focus on how people interact in virtual reality when provided with motion tracked avatars. I'll discuss a study that compared interaction in VR with embodied avatars, interaction in a shared VR environment, but no avatars, and face-to-face interaction. Interestingly, the embodied VR condition performed comparably to face-to-face social interaction on a range of measures, including social presence and conversational turn length.

Bio: Michael Neff is a professor in Computer Science and Cinema & Digital Media at the University of California, Davis where he leads the Motion Lab, an interdisciplinary research effort in character animation and embodied interaction. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is also a Certified Laban Movement Analyst. His interests include character animation, especially modeling expressive movement, nonverbal communication, gesture and applying performing arts knowledge to animation. He received an NSF CAREER Award, the Alain Fournier Award for his dissertation, two best paper awards and the Isadora Duncan Award for Visual Design. He is past Chair of the Department of Cinema and Digital Media.