Master's Thesis

The Impact of Emotional Expression and Social Touch on the Empathetic Response Towards Virtual Characters.


Melina Baßfeld


Processing Period:

20.11.2023 - 20.05.2024


Empathy plays a central role in social interaction with virtual characters and robots. In applications such as medical training, psychological therapy, and social skills development, it is often necessary to empathize with the other person to be able to behave accordingly. Research is therefore investigating various factors that influence empathy. Among other things, emotional intensity has been identified as a factor. Other studies indicate that social touch enables communication to appear more human-like, which could also affect empathic perception. In this master's thesis, the influence of these two factors will be further investigated in a Virtual Reality environment. For this purpose, an application will be created in which participants will interact with an injured virtual character. The results of this study could be used to inform better design of virtual characters in the future.