Academic Papers of Curtis M. Kularski

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Emotions in the Social Aspects of Human-Computer Interaction

Sociology of Emotion SOCY 6090
Master of Arts in Sociology Fall 2016


Modern humans interact with a variety of electronic devices to accomplish tasks, entertain themselves and to communicate with others. Traditionally this interaction has been conceived of as being the interaction between a user and a tool. There is no emotional value in that interaction, it is not social. The interaction is merely functional. The problem with that approach is that humans do express emotions toward computers, smart phones and other computational devices. Some of the concepts involved in the computer science sub-field of human-computer interaction describe these interactions as social and refer to computers as social actors. If computers are to be treated social actors, then emotions must be considered in evaluation of the interactions in which they take part. Despite the anthropomorphist properties that some in the computer science discipline apply to computers, computers, including artificial intelligences, do not experience feelings. Therefore, the concept of emotions in human-computer interaction must be considered through different frameworks and from the perspective of the human actors involved. Humans develop social relationships with their technology (Nass 1994). Like any relationship involving humans, the quality of the relationship is impacted by the emotional exchanges involved. Emotion is an important component of human-computer interaction because of the amount of time that humans spend with their devices and because the capability to interact successfully with other humans depends upon strong social and emotional skills.

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