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Beware of computers bearing smiles: Modeling the social and cognitive effects of emotion

Dr. Jonathan Gratch

Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

University of Southern California, Department of Computer Science and Institute for Creative Technologies

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Over forty years ago, Herb Simon argued that emotions would be required by any intelligent entity that must act in a dynamic, semipredictable and social world.  Nonetheless, the cognitive science revolution largely had comparatively little impact on emotion research.  This has change in recent years with greater interest in functional approaches to emotion in psychology and economics, and an explosion of interest in computer science on techniques for recognizing, modeling and exploiting emotions in simulations, decision models, and human-machine interaction. In this interdisciplinary talk, I will broadly overview my research on the role of emotion in understanding the social and cognitive function of emotion for both humans and machines. With regard to cognition, I will review my research on the EMA model of emotion, based on appraisal theory, and illustrate how it predicts the antecedents and consequences of emotion in several decision-making task.  With regard to social cognition, I will highlight how expressed emotion fundamentally alters how we make decisions with other decision-makers (both natural and artificial). I will illustrate these points using studies across a variety of domains including medical interviews, economic decision-making and computer games.  I will discuss both the theoretical consequences of these findings for human cognition as well as their practical implications for human-computer, computer-mediated and human-robot interaction. Throughout, I will argue the need for an interdisciplinary partnership between the social and computational sciences around to topic of emotion.



Jonathan Gratch ( is Director for Virtual Human Research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies, a Research Full Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at USC and co-director of USC’s Computational Emotion Group. He completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urban-Champaign in 1995.  Dr. Gratch’s research focuses on computational models of human cognitive and social processes, especially emotion, and explores these models’ role in shaping human-computer interactions in virtual environments. He studies the relationship between cognition and emotion, the cognitive processes underlying emotional responses, and the influence of emotion on decision making and physical behavior. He is the founding and current Editor-in-Chief of IEEE’s Transactions on Affective Computing (3.5 impact factor in 2013), Associate Editor of Emotion Review and the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, and former President of the Association for the Advancement of Affective Computing (AAAC). He is a AAAI Fellow, a SIGART Autonomous Agent’s Award recipient, a Senior Member of IEEE, and member of the International Society for Research on Emotion (ISRE).  Dr. Gratch is the author of over 200 technical articles.

Dr. Jonathan Gratch