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Support for Human Emotional Needs in Human-Computer Interaction

  • Date Submitted: 11/02/2011 05:40 AM
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Support for Human Emotional Needs in Human-Computer Interaction

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." --Henry David Thoreau
It is perhaps a fundamental truth to every psychologist and therapist in
the United States and elsewhere that the fulfillment of emotional needs
is basic and necessary to human well-being. Leading a rich, fulfilling
life is intimately tied to being aware of ones emotional needs, and being
able to meet them [i.e. 1, 2]. Conversely, a life with routinely unmet
emotional needs is often filled with pain, manifesting itself as anxiety,
depression, or violence. Indeed, many of the most virulent problems that
plague human society, from drug and alcohol abuse to violent crime, may
be traced to a widespread inability to meet such basic emotional needs.
Two main factors seem to be at play here: The first may be called
"emotional skill needs", an awareness of emotions and the ability to
manage them, both ones' own and those of others [3]. The second factor
may be termed "experiential emotional needs", which tend to follow
Webster's definition of a need: "A physiological or psychological
requirement for the well-being of an organism." When one or more of
these needs go unmet, the individual may suffer pain; chronic failure to
meet these needs can result in severe effects. Developmental psychology
studies, for example, show that babies raised in orphanages who don't
receive enough attention either die or have developmental disorders [4].
We believe that technology has advanced to the point that we can begin to
develop tools that can help people meet their emotional needs, and that
such work is important to the development of human-computer interaction.
While we strongly believe that technology should never replace
interpersonal interaction, humans often suffer from the lack of such
contact. We see technology's role as a tool to educate, empower and
perhaps help "fill in gaps" for meeting experiential emotional needs when...


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