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24-09-2020 | Issue 6/2020

International Journal of Social Robotics 6/2020

The Effect of Design Features on Relationship Quality with Embodied Conversational Agents: A Systematic Review

Journal:
International Journal of Social Robotics > Issue 6/2020
Authors:
Kate Loveys, Gabrielle Sebaratnam, Mark Sagar, Elizabeth Broadbent
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12369-020-00680-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Abstract

Embodied conversational agents (ECAs) are increasingly used in healthcare and other settings to improve self-management and provide companionship. Their ability to form close relationships with people is important for enhancing effectiveness and engagement. Several studies have looked at enhancing relationships with ECAs through design features focused on behaviours, appearance, or language. However, this evidence is yet to be systematically synthesized. This systematic review evaluates the effect of different design features on relationship quality with ECAs. A systematic search was conducted on electronic databases EMBASE, PsychInfo, PubMed, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, SCOPUS, and Web of Science in January–February 2019. 43 studies were included for review that evaluated the effect of a design feature on relationship quality and social perceptions or behaviours towards an ECA. Results synthesize effective design features and lay a scientific framework for improving relationships with ECAs in healthcare and other applications. Risk of bias for included studies was generally low, however there were some limitations in the research quality pertaining to outcome measurement and the reporting of statistics. Further research is needed to understand how to make ECAs effective and engaging for all consumers.

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