“In Afghanistan, a new therapist is talking with soldiers. Her name is Ellie, she is the face of a computer program and she could be the key to identifying PTSD in America’s military.
Equipped with a Microsoft Kinect motion sensor, she nods at the right time, urges patients on with a well-timed “uh-huh,” and knows when to stop talking. A study released earlier this month found that patients were more willing to open up to Ellie than to a human therapist, mostly because they felt like they were not being judged by the computer program.
Ellie isn’t designed to replace therapists. Instead, her program, called SimSensei, could be used as a screening tool for the military and hospitals…
Plans are being drawn to create booths in VA hospitals where veterans can talk to Ellie whenever they would like. Other technology, like the Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses, is also being tested by researchers to help treat PTSD.”
Study: It’s only a computer: Virtual humans increase willingness to disclose (Computers in Human Behavior)
- Abstract: Research has begun to explore the use of virtual humans (VHs) in clinical interviews…In health and mental health contexts, patients are often reluctant to respond honestly. In the context of health-screening interviews, we report a study in which participants interacted with a VH interviewer and were led to believe that the VH was controlled by either humans or automation. As predicted, compared to those who believed they were interacting with a human operator, participants who believed they were interacting with a computer reported lower fear of self-disclosure, lower impression management, displayed their sadness more intensely, and were rated by observers as more willing to disclose. These results suggest that automated VHs can help overcome a significant barrier to obtaining truthful patient information.