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D2.3 Initial report on the Effects of GuestXR - Executive summary

The purpose of the creation of the GuestXR agent is to facilitate positive communication by fostering cooperation and decision-making, ensuring inclusiveness and sociability, resolving conflicts and inducing creativity and establishing shared social norms during social interactions in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) environments. The GuestXR agent is planned as an artificial assistant in virtual collaborative spaces, that is able to understand human interaction dynamics and adapt over time to assist the group in achieving its objectives.

The goal of this report is to provide a theoretical basis and psychological underpinnings for the GuestXR agent. It seeks to define the general rules guiding GuestXR while it influences social interactions, that take into account both psychological and ethical considerations related to group dynamics and users' sense of agency. The rationale for our document is to provide background scientific information that would be used in planning the implementation of Use Cases and interventions of Guest XR in each Use Case.

The GuestXR agent will be endowed with a range of actions to help individuals and groups achieve their objectives and priorities. It will be tasked with monitoring the criteria for satisfactory interactions and striving to achieve them. It should protect participants by reducing discrimination, countering harassment, promoting equal opportunities, de-escalating conflicts, and mitigating social polarization while preserving diversity of viewpoints. Introducing interaction procedures and conversation guidelines will promote equality, openness, and fairness, which will contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to constructive disagreements. However, it must also strive to secure users’ sense of agency and autonomy, as too much control may lead to psychological reactance, defensiveness, and reduction of self-efficacy.

One of the most important dimensions on which human interactions can be described and which is especially relevant to the Guest XR goals is the dimension of cooperation and competition, as defined by Morton Deutsch. This dimension is central to all the use cases and especially to the topic of conflict. In the report, we first describe several socio-psychological theories relevant to the cooperation vs competition dimension and specify the rules for Guest XR stemming from these theories, which are broader and not necessarily limited to the use cases. Then we provide specific scientific backgrounds to particular use cases - Climate Change Use Case, Conflict Use Case, and modelling of Free Discussion (Turn-taking). The penultimate section of the report outlines research on the Sense of Autonomy and Agency of users. The report culminates with Ethical Aspects of the GuestXR agent that need to be considered while designing its effects on social interaction.

After each section, we provide a list of specific recommendations for the GuestXR rules that should be applied to each use case. In the Conclusions, we also specify the general rules of GuestXR interventions, that can be employed in all the use cases and in the future development of GuestXR. We aim to ensure that GuestXR interventions result in building virtual environments that are a) welcoming, safe, and supportive; b) ethical and just; c) productive and satisfactory for their users. In sum, GuestXR agent should:

  • help people to cooperate, not fight, without the obligation of unanimity,
  • react to stop the spiralling of aggression,
  • use minimal actions to encourage cooperation,
  • give voice to each participant in the interaction without damaging the natural structure of the conversation.