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  • Public defence: 2019-03-29 23:01 Karlskrona
    Jerčić, Petar
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Creative Technologies.
    The Effects of Emotions and Their Regulation on Decision-making Performance in Affective Serious Games2019Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Emotions are thought to be one of the key factors that critically influence human decision-making. Emotion-regulation can help to mitigate emotion-related decision biases and eventually lead to a better decision performance. Serious games emerged as a new angle introducing technological methods to practicing emotion-regulation, where meaningful biofeedback information communicates player's affective states to a series of informed gameplay choices. These findings motivate the notion that in the decision context of serious games, one would benefit from awareness and regulation of such emerging emotions.

    This thesis explores the design and evaluation methods for creating serious games where emotion-regulation can be practiced using physiological biofeedback measures. Furthermore, it investigates emotions and the effect of emotion-regulation on decision performance in serious games. Using the psychophysiological methods in the design of such games, emotions and their underlying neural mechanism have been explored.

    The results showed the benefits of practicing emotion-regulation in serious games, where decision-making performance was increased for the individuals who down-regulated high levels of arousal while having an experience of positive valence. Moreover, it increased also for the individuals who received the necessary biofeedback information. The results also suggested that emotion-regulation strategies (i.e., cognitive reappraisal) are highly dependent on the serious game context. Therefore, the reappraisal strategy was shown to benefit the decision-making tasks investigated in this thesis. The results further suggested that using psychophysiological methods in emotionally arousing serious games, the interplay between sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways could be mapped through the underlying emotions which activate those two pathways. Following this conjecture, the results identified the optimal arousal level for increased performance of an individual on a decision-making task, by carefully balancing the activation of those two pathways. The investigations also validated these findings in the collaborative serious game context, where the robot collaborators were found to elicit diverse affect in their human partners, influencing performance on a decision-making task. Furthermore, the evidence suggested that arousal is equally or more important than valence for the decision-making performance, but once optimal arousal has been reached, a further increase in performance may be achieved by regulating valence. Furthermore, the results showed that serious games designed in this thesis elicited high physiological arousal and positive valence. This makes them suitable as research platforms for the investigation of how these emotions influence the activation of sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways and influence performance on a decision-making task.

    Taking these findings into consideration, the serious games designed in this thesis allowed for the training of cognitive reappraisal emotion-regulation strategy on the decision-making tasks. This thesis suggests that using evaluated design and development methods, it is possible to design and develop serious games that provide a helpful environment where individuals could practice emotion-regulation through raising awareness of emotions, and subsequently improve their decision-making performance.