Along with the wide prevalence of human-like conversational agents such as Siri, Google, Alexa, and Bixby, designing personalities of such agents has become a key research interest. As agent personalities are crucial to determining how they perceive the agent, how satisfying the interaction is, and whether they wish to interact with it again, it is not surprising that building a consistent personality of a CA is receiving emphasis as a crucial part of designing a user-agent interaction. For an agent personality to be manifested consistently, those who design such personality should be able to deliver it concretely enough to those who write actual dialogs to enable a shared understanding of the intended personality. In light of this issue, this research aims to develop a design guide for consistent manifestation of agent personalities by exploring the ways to design and express them in order to be clearly communicated among various designers.
Recent years have seen numerous attempts to imbue conversational agents with marked identities by crafting their personalities. However, the question remains as to how such personalities can be systematically designed. To address this problem, this paper proposes a conceptual framework for designing and communicating agent personalities. We conducted two design workshops with 12 designers, discovering three dimensions of an agent personality and three channels to express it. The study results revealed that an agent personality can be crafted by designing common traits shared within a service domain, distinctive traits added for a unique identity, and neutral traits left intentionally undecided or user-driven. Also, such a personality can be expressed through how an agent performs services, what contents it provides, and how it speaks and appears to be. Our results suggest a renewed view of the dimensions of conversational agent personalities.
Consistency in a personality of a conversational agent plays a crucial role in forming user expectations towards interaction and determining the quality of user experience. For an agent personality to be manifested consistently, designers should be able to communicate the personality they designed clearly and concretely to multiple dialogue designers so that the same understanding of the intended personality is shared among them. This paper proposes a design guide to support such communication to ensure consistent manifestation of an agent personality throughout conversations crafted by multiple designers. In reference to a conversational agent personality framework and the speech act theory, we developed the guide that supports designers to grasp how an agent personality was designed as well as how to manifest it in various conversational situations. While we evaluated the guide in a Wizard-of-Oz-based user study, we also explored what should be considered in order for designers to maintain consistency of manifested personality in conversational interactions. The findings related to users’ perception of a consistent agent personality were threefold: users perceived roles and functions of an agent as its personality; cross-situational consistency in style of providing services and contents mattered; and users were tolerant for inconsistency in verbal and physical modalities. We conclude the paper with discussion on potential benefits of the guide.