Analyzing Perceived Empathy Based on Reaction Time in Behavioral Mimicry

Shiro KUMANO  Kazuhiro OTSUKA  Masafumi MATSUDA  Junji YAMATO  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E97-D   No.8   pp.2008-2020
Publication Date: 2014/08/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.E97.D.2008
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Cyberworlds)
Category: Affective Computing
empathy,  emotional contagion,  perception,  mimicry,  facial expression,  response time,  time lag,  Bayes model,  

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This study analyzes emotions established between people while interacting in face-to-face conversation. By focusing on empathy and antipathy, especially the process by which they are perceived by external observers, this paper aims to elucidate the tendency of their perception and from it develop a computational model that realizes the automatic inference of perceived empathy/antipathy. This paper makes two main contributions. First, an experiment demonstrates that an observer's perception of an interacting pair is affected by the time lags found in their actions and reactions in facial expressions and by whether their expressions are congruent or not. For example, a congruent but delayed reaction is unlikely to be perceived as empathy. Based on our findings, we propose a probabilistic model that relates the perceived empathy/antipathy of external observers to the actions and reactions of conversation participants. An experiment is conducted on ten conversations performed by 16 women in which the perceptions of nine external observers are gathered. The results demonstrate that timing cues are useful in improving the inference performance, especially for perceived antipathy.