‘Researchers from USC and the University of Denver created a simulation in which a three-person team was supported by a virtual agent avatar on screen in a mission that was designed to ensure failure and elicit conflict.’
The potential for virtual mediation in team conflicts was the purpose of the study. The research found participants would talk openly to a virtual agent until things got heated and the exchanges subsided.
Previously established virtual one-on-one talks resulted in more candour than with a human counterpart. The authors report, “our results show that virtual agents and potentially social robots might be a good conflict mediator in all kinds of teams.”
The study took place in a military setting and used a virtual agent called ‘Chris,’ with a male voice. The researchers hope to pursue similar studies in other environments.