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e-Circus Webpage icon

Collaborators: Rui Figueiredo, Ana Paiva, João Dias, Marco Vala, Pedro Sequeira, Rui Prada


Education through Characters with Emotional-Intelligence and Roleplaying Capabilities that Understand Social Interaction

eCIRCUS will develop a new approach in the use of ICT to support social and emotional learning within Personal and Social Education (PSE).

This will be achieved through virtual role-play with synthetic characters that establish credible and empathic relations with the learners. To attain this, eCIRCUS investigates educational role-play using autonomous synthetic characters and involving the child through affective engagement, including the use of standard and highly innovative interaction mechanisms.

This project will develop novel conceptual models and innovative technology to support learning through role-play and affective engagement for Personal and Social Education (PSE) involving complex social situations. It will do this by taking modern theories of narrative and role-play from psychology and implementing them in affectively driven autonomous graphically embodied agents – actors with attitude.

It will deliver this technology through a VLE for emotional and social learning, developed through two showcases:


- one on anti-bullying education

- one on intercultural empathy


The dissemination of results from this project could have a significant impact on approaches to social and emotional learning; improving quality and innovation in learning technologies; determining approaches to combat bullying and support conflict resolution; and potentially improving the quality of life in European schools.


FearNot!: a computer-based anti-bullying-programme designed to foster peer intervention
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Natalie Vannini and Sibylle Enz and Maria Sapouna and Dieter Wolke and Scott Watson and Sarah Woods and Kerstin Dautenhahn and Lynne Hall and Ana Paiva and Elizabeth Andre and Ruth Aylett , European Journal of Psychology of Education, 2010
Inter-cultural differences in response to a computer-based anti-bullying intervention
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Scott Watson and Natalie Vannini and Sarah Woods and Kerstin Dautenhahn and Maria Sapouna and Lynne Hall and Ana Paiva and Elizabeth Andre and Ruth Aylett, Educational Research,, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2010
Making It Up as You Go Along - Improvising Stories for Pedagogical Purposes
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Ruth Aylett and Rui Figueiredo and Sandy Louchart and João Dias and Ana Paiva, IVA'2006 -Intelligent Virtual Agents, Springer, 2006
Unscripted Narrative for Affectively Driven Characters
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Ruth Aylett and Sandy Louchart and João Dias and Ana Paiva and Marco Vala and Sarah Woods and Lynne Hall, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, pg. 43-52, May-June, 2006
Using Theory of Mind to investigate empathic engagement with synthetic characters
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Lynne Hall and Sarah Woods and Ruth Aylett and Ana Paiva , Journal of Humanoid Robotics, Vol. 3, No. 3, pg. 351-370, 2006
Learning by Feeling: Evoking Empathy with Synthetic Characters
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Ana Paiva, João Dias, Daniel Sobral, Ruth Aylett, Sarah Woods, Lynne Hall and Carsten Zoll, Applied Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 19, No. 3, pg. 235-266, 2005
Caring for Agents and Agents that Care: Building Empathic Relations with Synthetic Agents
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Ana Paiva and João Dias and Daniel Sobral and Ruth Aylett and Sarah Woods and Carsten Zoll and Lynne Hall, AAMAS'2004 - International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems, ACM Press, July, 2004