Cross-Cultural Evaluation of Politeness in Tactics for Pedagogical Agents

W. Lewis Johnson, Richard Mayer, Elisabeth André and Matthias Rehm

erschienen 2005 "Proc. of the 12th Int. Conf. on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED)", Pages 298 - 305

Verlag: IOS Press

ISBN: 1-58603-530-4 DOI:


Politeness may play a role in tutorial interaction, including promoting learner motivation and avoiding negative affect. Politeness theory can account for this as a means of mitigating the face threats arising in tutorial situations. It further provides a way of accounting for differences in politeness in different cultures. Research in social aspects of human-computer interaction predict that similar phenomena will arise when a computer tutor interacts with learners, i.e., they should exhibit politeness, and the degree of politeness may be culturally dependent.

To test this hypothesis, a series of experiments was conducted. First, American students were asked to rate the politeness of possible messages delivered by a computer tutor. The ratings were consistent with the conversational politeness hypothesis, although they depended upon the level of computer literacy of the subjects. Then, the materials were translated into German, in two versions: a polite version, using the formal pronoun Sie, and a familiar version, using the informal pronoun Du. German students were asked to rate these messages. Ratings by German students were highly consistent with the ratings given by the American subjects, and the same pattern was found across both pronoun forms.