Human-Computer Studies

Article in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies published

  • Date: 06.08.2019

  • The article “A Taxonomy of Social Cues for Conversational Agents“ by Jasper Feine, Ulrich Gnewuch, Stefan Morana and Alexander Maedche has been published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies…

    Conversational agents (CAs) are software-based systems designed to interact with humans using natural language and have attracted considerable research interest in recent years. Following the Computers Are Social Actors paradigm, many studies have shown that humans react socially to CAs when they display social cues such as small talk, gender, age, gestures, or facial expressions. However, research on social cues for CAs is scattered across different fields, often using their specific terminology, which makes it challenging to identify, classify, and accumulate existing knowledge. To address this problem, we conducted a systematic literature review to identify an initial set of social cues of CAs from existing research. Building on classifications from interpersonal communication theory, we developed a taxonomy that classifies the identified social cues into four major categories (i.e., verbal, visual, auditory, invisible) and ten subcategories. Subsequently, we evaluated the mapping between the identified social cues and the categories using a card sorting approach in order to verify that the taxonomy is natural, simple, and parsimonious. Finally, we demonstrate the usefulness of the taxonomy by classifying a broader and more generic set of social cues of CAs from existing research and practice. Our main contribution is a comprehensive taxonomy of social cues for CAs. For researchers, the taxonomy helps to systematically classify research about social cues into one of the taxonomy's categories and corresponding subcategories. Therefore, it builds a bridge between different research fields and provides a starting point for interdisciplinary research and knowledge accumulation. For practitioners, the taxonomy provides a systematic overview of relevant categories of social cues in order to identify, implement, and test their effects in the design of a CA.

    The online version of the taxonomy is available on: