Modeling culture in intelligent virtual agents: From theory to implementation

Samuel Mascarenhas, Nick Degens, Ana Paiva, Rui Prada, Gert Jan Hofstede, Adrie Beulens, Ruth Aylett

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This work addresses the challenge of creating virtual agents that are able to portray culturally appropriate behavior when interacting with other agents or humans. Because culture influences how people perceive their social reality it is important to have agent models that explicitly consider social elements, such as existing relational factors. We addressed this necessity by integrating culture into a novel model for simulating human social behavior. With this model, we operationalized a particular dimension of culture—individualism versus collectivism—within the context of an interactive narrative scenario that is part of an agent-based tool for intercultural training. Using this scenario we conducted a cross-cultural study in which participants from a collectivistic country (Portugal) were compared with participants from an individualistic country (the Netherlands) in the way they perceived and interacted with agents whose behavior was either individualistic or collectivistic, according to the configuration of the proposed model. In the obtained results, Portuguese subjects rated the collectivistic agents more positively than the Dutch but both countries had a similarly positive opinion about the individualistic agents. This experiment sheds new light on how people from different countries differ when assessing the social appropriateness of virtual agents, while also raising new research questions on this matter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931–962
Number of pages32
JournalAutonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Issue number5
Early online date19 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • Cognitive models
  • Collectivism
  • Culture
  • Individualism
  • Intelligent virtual environments
  • Virtual agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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