New software system from MIT could help people improve their conversational and interview skills.
Social phobias affect about 15 million adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and surveys show that public speaking is high on the list of such phobias. For some people, these fears of social situations can be especially acute: For example, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome often have difficulty making eye contact and reacting appropriately to social cues. But with appropriate training, such difficulties can often be overcome.
Now, new software developed at MIT can be used to help people practice their interpersonal skills until they feel more comfortable with situations such as a job interview or a first date. The software, called MACH (short for My Automated Conversation coacH), uses a computer-generated onscreen face, along with facial, speech, and behavior analysis and synthesis software, to simulate face-to-face conversations. It then provides users with feedback on their interactions.
The research was led by MIT Media Lab doctoral student M. Ehsan Hoque, who says the work could be helpful to a wide range of people. A paper documenting the software’s development and testing has been accepted for presentation at the 2013 International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, known as UbiComp, to be held in September.
“Interpersonal skills are the key to being successful at work and at home,” Hoque says. “How we appear and how we convey our feelings to others define us. But there isn’t much help out there to improve on that segment of interaction.”
Many people with social phobias, Hoque says, want “the possibility of having some kind of automated system so that they can practice social interactions in their own environment. … They desire to control the pace of the interaction, practice as many times as they wish, and own their data.”
The MACH software offers all those features, Hoque says. In fact, in randomized tests with 90 MIT juniors who volunteered for the research, the software showed its value.
First, the test subjects — all of whom were native speakers of English — were randomly divided into three groups. Each group participated in two simulated job interviews, a week apart, with MIT career counselors.
But between the two interviews, unbeknownst to the counselors, the students received help: One group watched videos of interview advice, while a second group had a practice session with the MACH simulated interviewer, but received no feedback other than a video of their own performance. Finally, a third group used MACH and then saw videos of themselves accompanied by an analysis of such measures as how much they smiled, how well they maintained eye contact, how well they modulated their voices, and how often they used filler words such as “like,” “basically” and “umm.”
Evaluations by another group of career counselors showed statistically significant improvement by members of the third group on measures including “appears excited about the job,” “overall performance,” and “would you recommend hiring this person?” In all of these categories, by comparison, there was no significant change for the other two groups.
The Latest Bing News on:
- Pirlo: Coaching choice was automaticon October 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm
“So, it became an automatic choice to become a coach. “I had the luck of working with some great coaches. From Mircea Lucescu, who was one of my first at Brescia - he was a maestro - to Marcello Lippi ...
- Kyle Shanahan hopeful to get Jimmy Garoppolo back vs. Ramson October 13, 2020 at 3:52 pm
The 49ers benched Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 5, but they’re hopeful he’ll be healthier and back under center vs. the Rams.
- Automatic slack adjusters called ‘automatic’ for a reasonon October 13, 2020 at 10:49 am
Making a brake adjustment in an auto-slack may not correct a problem if there is a bigger, underlying problem with the brake system. An advanced technician can be a valuable ally for any ...
- Pirlo: 'It's more stressful to be a coach'on October 12, 2020 at 9:09 am
It’s definitely more stressful in the dugout because on the pitch I could decide what I wanted to do with the ball. “From the dugout I can manage, but it’s other people that are interpreting their ...
- Rahway's Russo named New York Jets Coach of the Weekon October 12, 2020 at 7:07 am
Rahway head football coach Brian Russo, a former Woodbridge and Wagner star, has been named the New York Jets tri-state scholastic Coach of the Week ...
- Purdue cheer coach furloughed by athletics departmenton October 12, 2020 at 5:00 am
Head Cheer Coach Steven Solberg has been furloughed, according to an email on Sept. 29. In an automatic email response, Solberg said he will be out on furlough until Dec. 13, and will not have access ...
- Regev: Stop Culture Minister from interfering with national coach positionon October 11, 2020 at 2:13 am
"Even if Regev continues to make political rounds on the backs of Israeli sports, the simple picture will not change: She is interfering in matters not hers." ...
- Bucs coach Bruce Arians went for it on fourth down at his own 20 and had his 43-year-old QB sneak iton October 8, 2020 at 8:24 pm
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians will always hit on 16 against a dealer’s 10 in blackjack. He might hit on 17 and 18, too. The NFL is shifting its attitude on going for it on fourth down. For ...
- Washington coach Jimmy Lake’s College Football Playoff plan would solve one tricky Pac-12 problemon October 8, 2020 at 1:12 pm
Jimmy Lake is so passionate about his College Football Playoff plan that he and his oldest son recently reseeded every playoff since the CFP came into existence in 2014, using their system.
- 2020 NFL quarter-season awards: Picks for MVP, rookies of the year, top coach, best catch, moreon October 8, 2020 at 4:09 am
Three quarterbacks lead the way for MVP, while the Defensive Player of the Year voting is all pass-rushers. Let's dole out a few awards.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
My Automated Conversation coacH
- Personal Growth Needs To Be Every Cloud Software CEO’s Top Priority, Says Bill.com’s Rene Lacerte.on October 12, 2020 at 1:25 pm
Forbes Scaling Up talked to Bill.com’s founder and CEO, René Lacerte. Bill.com is a fast-growing cloud software company that sells automated payment services for small and medium sized businesses.
- 'A miracle': How two trainers, defibrillator and 'God's hands' save dying football playeron October 10, 2020 at 4:52 am
The trainers had never met, never even had a conversation ... equipment also played a role: an automated external defibrillator (AED) unit. Both teams had a unit available. Ramsey shouted for Union ...
- 'A miracle': How trainers' quick actions saved JV football player during a gameon October 10, 2020 at 4:44 am
Two athletic trainers were on hand at a JV football game last week in South Carolina when a player collapsed. Their actions helped save his life.
- 'This was the NBA's moonshot': Inside the final days of the bubbleon October 9, 2020 at 4:20 am
INSIDE THE NBA'S BUBBLE, there is a pathway around the residences -- a nearly mile-long loop and a longer, 1.6-mile loop that encompasses the Coronado Springs resort, one of the Disney properties that ...
- 'I Want to Restore HBCU Football': Deion Sanders and Jackson State Take the Plungeon October 8, 2020 at 6:29 am
“I’ll be buying my jersey.” The ripple effect of Sanders’s stunning hire as the new head coach of this historically ... He left those conversations genuinely pleased with Sanders’s ...
- Kevin Walsh and colleagues lifting the lid on football coaching methodson September 30, 2020 at 10:03 pm
Those conversations ... my career’,” says Seán Conlon. “A common instruction you hear from the sideline in football is: ‘Get away from your man’. And the forward can’t. And the coach ...
- Rugby coach wasn’t allowed to watch Shield challengeon September 29, 2020 at 8:55 pm
The Hawke’s Bay rugby coach Mark Ozich didn’t dare look at ... shield off Taranaki last weekend meaning Hawke’s Bay get an automatic challenge on Sunday. Ozich was asked if he’d been ...
- Stepping stones: Drinkwitz's rise from Sun Belt to SECon September 27, 2020 at 10:48 am
That afternoon, Joos, Drinkwitz and MU athletic director Jim Sterk had their first conversation ... “One, Coach Drink is a cheater. He showed up, had an automatic weapon, a better weapon than ...
- Senior guard Patrick Good ‘opting out’ of his final season with ETSU Bucs basketball teamon September 23, 2020 at 8:26 pm
The release also included the following statement from ETSU men’s basketball head coach, Jason Shay. “After having multiple conversations ... difficult decision of my life.” ...
- IPL 2020: For Rajasthan Royals' Yashasvi Jaiswal, it's all about the mindon September 17, 2020 at 12:34 am
"At the back of my mind, I knew that the ... Jaiswal may not be an automatic choice in the XI for batsmen-heavy Rajasthan Royals, but coach Jwala has advised him to observe top cricketers in ...