User Validation of an Empathic Virtual Buddy against Cyberbullying.
ABSTRACT People are able to comfort others by talking about their problems. In our research, we are exploring whether computers can provide social support in a similar manner. Recently, we proposed a design for an empathic virtual buddy that supports victims of cyberbullying. To validate our approach in providing social support and to gather feedback from potential users, we performed an experiment (N = 30) to compare interaction with the buddy to reading a text. Both the buddy and the text received high scores; scores for the buddy were consistently higher. The difference was significant for the extent to which feelings were taken into account. These results indicate that participants liked to interact with the buddy and that they recognized the emotional cues emitted by the buddy, thus validating our approach in comforting users.