Exploring the feeling of togetherness in virtual spaces

Ayache, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-8587-5628, 2024. Exploring the feeling of togetherness in virtual spaces. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Togetherness is a broad concept, with distinctive research fields focused on moving (i.e., synchrony and imitation), feeling (i.e., affective empathy) and thinking together (cognitive empathy), challenging our understanding of the experience of “being with”. Furthermore, the traditional scaffolding of face-to-face human-human interactions is nowadays disrupted by human-computer interactions. Consequently, the present thesis explored (i) the overlap between moving, feeling and thinking together and (ii) their translations into virtual spaces. During this PhD, a systematic literature review was conducted, providing an overview of behavioural synchrony, understood as an emergent coordination pattern, studied through the lenses of physics and social sciences. Online and in-laboratory studies investigated the association between synchrony, imitation, and affective, cognitive and motor facets of empathy using autonomous agents. Experiments I and II used self-reports of affective, cognitive and motor empathy, and social bonding combined with behavioural assessments of synchrony and economic games, confirming (i) an association between goal-oriented motor synchronization and cognitive empathy but (ii) questioning the credibility of virtual agents for eliciting social bonding. Experiments III and IV used self-reports of affective, cognitive and motor empathy combined with an automatic imitation and second-order theory of mind tasks coupled with electrophysiological recordings, revealing (i) a negative association of affective and motor-related empathy facets with behavioural accuracy and (ii) the role of predictability on tendencies for anthropomorphism. This thesis has fundamental and applied implications for improving our understanding of the feeling of togetherness in human-computer interactions. By merging the theoretical frameworks of moving, feeling and thinking together, this thesis (i) highlights their respective and overlapping contributions, (ii) provides a systematic investigation of their association by taking into consideration their multidimensional components, and (iii) highlights the limitation of virtual agents in fulfilling human needs for belongingness.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Ayache, J.
Heym, N.Thesis supervisorPSY3HEYMNorcid.org/0000-0003-2414-8854
Kuss, D.Thesis supervisorPSY3KUSSDJorcid.org/0000-0001-8917-782X
Sumich, A.Thesis supervisorPSY3SUMICAorcid.org/0000-0003-4333-8442
Date: June 2024
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Melissa Cornwell
Date Added: 10 Jul 2024 09:30
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2024 09:30
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/51731

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