The inability to satisfy the person of power in this interaction is suggested to lead to feelings of helplessness and lack of motivation, key components of negative feedback. Using this scenario as a template, we created a virtual environment in which individuals are assigned to a task that they are incapable of completing to the satisfaction of an instructor.
Specifically, the interactive virtual environment here simulated an acting class scenario. One of the virtual characters was designed to be the instructor in the scene. Each participant and other non-player characters (NPC) were students who were asked to rehearse 'Romeo and Juliet: Act 3, Scene 3'.
Each time the participant finished reading a line, the virtual instructor provided negative feedback in a number of ways including harsh language, negative non-verbals, encroaching on personal space, and ridiculing the participants' performance. Although the negative feedback from virtual instructor were scripted and identical for all participants, participants were told the feedback was tailored based on their performance and they should follow the instructor's directions to the best of their ability. At the conclusion of the experiment, participants were debriefed about the scripted and non-authentic nature of the "feedback".
To invoke negative affect, the system utilized social interaction and an impossible task framework as mechanisms. All feedback given by the virtual instructor, regardless of actual performance, were designed to be negative and variable in nature.
An example of a trial
The Revised Causal Dimension Scale (CDSII) (Mcauley et al. 1992) was used to measure assignment of causal attributions after the conclusion of the experiment. The CDSII consists of four individual dimensions, "locus of causality" (internality), "stability", "personal control", and "external control". Responses are made on 9-point semantic differential scale with anchoring statements at either end of the scale.
In addition to the original items, items tailored for this experiment were included as slight modifications to the existing items. For instance, "Professor can regulate : professor cannot regulate", "That reflects an aspect of yourself : reflects an aspect of the professor" and "Something about you : something about the professor".
The scale used in the experiment is listed below.
Upon completion of the experiment, participants were also asked to respond to an ad-hoc questionnaire on a 5-point Likert scale designed to comprehensively evaluate the system's performance.
The ad-hoc questions are listed below
We thank Stephen J. Read for his help in selecting psychological measures for this study and his suggestions on modifications of the CDSII scale.
This research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant FA9550-14-1-0364. Statements and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the United States Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.