A Large-Scale User Study of an Alexa Prize Chatbot: Effect of TTS Dynamism on Perceived Quality of Social Dialog

WS 2019  ·  Michelle Cohn, Chun-Yen Chen, Zhou Yu ·

This study tests the effect of cognitive-emotional expression in an Alexa text-to-speech (TTS) voice on users{'} experience with a social dialog system. We systematically introduced emotionally expressive interjections (e.g., {``}Wow!.. {''}) and filler words (e.g., {``}um{''}, {``}mhmm{''}) in an Amazon Alexa Prize socialbot, Gunrock. We tested whether these TTS manipulations improved users{'} ratings of their conversation across thousands of real user interactions (n=5,527). Results showed that interjections and fillers each improved users{'} holistic ratings, an improvement that further increased if the system used both manipulations. A separate perception experiment corroborated the findings from the user study, with improved social ratings for conversations including interjections; however, no positive effect was observed for fillers, suggesting that the role of the rater in the conversation{---}as active participant or external listener{---}is an important factor in assessing social dialogs. read more

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