EMMA: An Emotionally Intelligent Personal Assistant for Improving Wellbeing

Ghandeharioun, A., McDuff, D., Czerwinski, M., & Rowan, K. (2018). EMMA: An Emotionally Intelligent Personal Assistant for Improving Wellbeing. arXiv preprint arXiv:1812.11423.


The delivery of mental health interventions via ubiquitous devices has shown much promise. A natural conversational interface that allows longitudinal symptom tracking and appropriate just-in-time interventions would be extremely valuable. However, the task of designing emotionally-aware agents is still poorly understood. Furthermore, the feasibility of automating the delivery of just-in-time mHealth interventions via such an agent has not been fully studied. In this paper, we present the design and evaluation of EMMA (EMotion-Aware mHealth Agent) through two human-subject experiments with N=39 participants (one-week, and two-week long respectively). EMMA conducts experience sampling in an empathetic manner and provides emotionally appropriate micro-activities. We show the system can be extended to detect a user's mood purely from smartphone sensor data. Our results show that extraverts preferred EMMA significantly more than introverts and that our personalized machine learning model worked as well as relying on gold-standard self-reports of emotion from users. Finally, we provide a set of guidelines for the design of bots for mHealth.

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