Seminar Talk 2014-01-15

“Beyond games: Using Virtual Humans to Implement Cultural Frame Switching”

Peter Khooshabeh, Ph.D
Fellow at University of Southern California
Institute for Creative Technologies
University of Southern California

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 – 5:30pm
Donald Bren Hall, Room 6011 (Bldg. 314)

Recent developments in computer graphics, animation algorithms, and natural language technology have paved the way for a new era of behavioral science research. I will discuss how we apply the USC Institute for Creative Technologies Virtual Human Toolkit to overcome barriers to traditional lab-based behavioral and social science. This line of research explores the individual characteristics that make cultures unique. Specifically, we study the role of accented spoken language and how it affects a listener’s thought processing. Results show that a virtual human’s accent influences bi-cultural listeners to switch mental frames. This work contributes to theories of cognition and culture. A better understanding of cultural factors that affect perception can also shape the design of human-computer interfaces. Future work is to develop personalized, pedagogical virtual characters with which individuals can engage in order to improve learning outcomes.

About the Speaker:
Peter Khooshabeh, Ph.D. (UCSB, 2009) is a fellow at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. Peter’s research uses several methods including interactive virtual environment technology, eye tracking, and psycho-physiological recording, to study human-computer interaction and spatial thinking in several different domains and with different user populations; this involves looking at individual differences. His projects range from negotiation and team work, social network visualization, and biomedical visualizations in dentistry, diagnostics, and surgery. He received his Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in Cognitive Science, with emphases in both computational modeling and cognitive psychology.