Loneliness among older adults is a problem with severe consequences to individual health, quality of life, cognitive capacity, and life-expectancy. Although approaches towards improving the quality and quantity of social relationships are the prevailing model of therapy, older adults may not always be able to form these relationships due to either personality factors, decreased mobility, or isolation. Intelligent personal assistants (IPAs), virtual agents, and social robotics offer an opportunity for the development of technology that could potentially serve as social companions to older adults. The present study explored whether an IPA could potentially be used as a social companion to older adults feeling lonely. Additionally, the research explored whether the device has the potential to generate social presence among both young and older adults. Results indicate that while the devices do show some social presence, participants rate the device low on some components of social presence, such as emotional contagion. This adversely affects the possibility of a social relationship between an older adult and the device. Analysis reveals ways to improve social presence in these devices.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Length of Campus-only Access
Montalvo, Fernando L., "Real Loneliness and Artificial Companionship: Looking for Social Connections in Technology" (2017). Honors in the Major Theses. 186.