Efforts to develop empathetic agents, or systems capable of responding appropriately to emotional content, have increased as the deployment of such systems in socially complex scenarios becomes more commonplace. In the context of human-machine communication (HMC), the ability to create the perception of empathy is achieved in large part through linguistic behavior. However, studies of how language is used to display and respond to emotion in ways deemed empathetic are limited. This article aims to address this gap, demonstrating how an interactional linguistics informed methodological approach can be applied to the study of empathy in HMC. We present an analysis of empathetic response strategies in HMC and examine how these diverge from the practices employed in human-human dialogue. The specific challenges encountered by current systems are reviewed and their implications for future work on HMC considered.



Author ORCID Identifier

Shauna Concannon: 0000-0002-5904-0045

Ian Roberts: 0000-0001-6723-6075

Marcus Tomalin: 0000-0001-7974-2506