“Understanding the impact of animated gesture performance on personality perceptions” by Smith and Neff

  • ©Harrison Jesse Smith and Michael Neff




    Understanding the impact of animated gesture performance on personality perceptions

Session/Category Title: People Power




    Applications such as virtual tutors, games, and natural interfaces increasingly require animated characters to take on social roles while interacting with humans. The effectiveness of these applications depends on our ability to control the social presence of characters, including their personality. Understanding how movement impacts the perception of personality allows us to generate characters more capable of fulfilling this social role. The two studies described herein focus on gesture as a key component of social communication and examine how a set of gesture edits, similar to the types of changes that occur during motion warping, impact the perceived personality of the character. Surprisingly, when based on thin-slice gesture data, people’s judgments of character personality mainly fall in a 2D subspace rather than independently impacting the full set of traits in the standard Big Five model of personality. These two dimensions are plasticity, which includes extraversion and openness, and stability, which includes emotional stability, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. A set of motion properties is experimentally determined that impacts each of these two traits. We show that when these properties are systematically edited in new gesture sequences, we can independently influence the character’s perceived stability and plasticity (and the corresponding Big Five traits), to generate distinctive personalities. We identify motion adjustments salient to each judgment and, in a series of perceptual studies, repeatedly generate four distinctly perceived personalities. The effects extend to novel gesture sequences and character meshes, and even largely persist in the presence of accompanying speech. This paper furthers our understanding of how gesture can be used to control the perception of personality and suggests both the potential and possible limits of motion editing approaches.


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