Effects of a virtual model’s pitch and speech rate on affective and cognitive learning

Sofia Fountoukidou, Uwe Matzat, Jaap Ham, Cees Midden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Various nonverbal behaviors – often referred to as nonverbal immediacy - of both human and virtual teachers have been shown to play a crucial role in student learning. However, past literature provides limited evidence of the effect of a virtual agent’s vocalization, as a nonverbal immediacy cue, on learning outcomes. Even less is known about the effect of nonverbal immediacy on learning when used in conjunction with virtual behavioral modeling. Earlier research provides evidence that virtual behavioral modeling could be an effective instructional method to facilitate learning in multimedia learning environments. The current work investigated the effects of a virtual model that used stronger vs. weaker vocal nonverbal immediacy on affective learning and cognitive learning (both perceived and objective). The operationalization of the virtual model’s vocal nonverbal immediacy has been realized by manipulating the agent’s vocal parameters of pitch and speech rate. We predicted, that a virtual model with stronger vocal nonverbal immediacy (i.e., higher pitch and faster speech rate) would be more effective in influencing individuals’ learning outcomes, as compared to a virtual model with weaker vocal nonverbal immediacy (i.e., lower pitch and slower speech rate). In accordance with our hypotheses, results revealed that participants who received instructions from a virtual model that used stronger vocal nonverbal immediacy showed greater affective learning, and increased perceptions of learning. Support was also found for an effect on participants’ recall. Results and implications of the study’s findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersuasive Technology
Subtitle of host publicationDevelopment of Persuasive and Behavior Change Support Systems - 14th International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2019, Proceedings
EditorsEvangelos Karapanos, Eleni Kyza, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Pasi Karppinen, Khin Than Win
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-17287-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-17286-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Event14th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, PERSUASIVE 2019 - Limassol, Cyprus
Duration: 9 Apr 201911 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11433 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference14th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, PERSUASIVE 2019


  • Learning
  • Nonverbal immediacy
  • Virtual modeling
  • Vocalization


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of a virtual model’s pitch and speech rate on affective and cognitive learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this