Changing users' health behaviour intentions through an embodied conversational agent delivering explanations based on users' beliefs and goals


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Interventions to improve health and well-being abound. Whether they are designed for prevention, maintenance or improvement, a key challenge is the motivation of the user to change their current behaviours, such as persisting or taking new actions. To encourage someone to change their behaviour requires persuading them to change their goals and/or their beliefs about the behaviour or their ability to perform it. Our embodied conversational agent (ECA) uses explanations based on the goals and beliefs of the user to promote a sense of personalisation and engagement with the treatment plan which could form a bond as the dyad develop shared goals and tasks together. To keep our message minimal and understand whether belief-based or goal-based explanations are more efficacious in changing behaviour intention, we collected data in the context of a scenario where the ECA seeks to change four behaviours recommended to help students manage their study stress. Our findings suggest that when the behaviour requires a change in desire, we need goal-based explanation, when adoption of the behaviour requires addressing a barrier we need belief-based explanation and warrant future investigation. Further, the stratified analysis suggested that more tailoring to the student's context could provide more motivation to change.
Embodied conversational agents, explanation, behaviour change, BDI, FAtiMA
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