Warmth and Competence in Human-Agent Cooperation

Kevin R. McKee, Xuechunzi Bai, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Interaction and cooperation with humans are overarching aspirations of artificial intelligence (AI) research. Recent studies demonstrate that AI agents trained with deep reinforcement learning are capable of collaborating with humans. These studies primarily evaluate human compatibility through “objective” metrics such as task performance, obscuring potential variation in the levels of trust and subjective preference that different agents garner. To better understand the factors shaping subjective preferences in human-agent cooperation, we train deep reinforcement learning agents in Coins, a two-player social dilemma. We recruit participants for a human-agent cooperation study and measure their impressions of the agents they encounter. Participants' perceptions of warmth and competence predict their stated preferences for different agents, above and beyond objective performance metrics. Drawing inspiration from social science and biology research, we subsequently implement a new “partner choice” framework to elicit revealed preferences: after playing an episode with an agent, participants are asked whether they would like to play the next round with the same agent or to play alone. As with stated preferences, social perception better predicts participants' revealed preferences than does objective performance. Given these results, we recommend human-agent interaction researchers routinely incorporate the measurement of social perception and subjective preferences into their studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS 2022
PublisherInternational Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (IFAAMAS)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781713854333
StatePublished - 2022
Event21st International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS 2022 - Auckland, Virtual, New Zealand
Duration: May 9 2022May 13 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS
ISSN (Print)1548-8403
ISSN (Electronic)1558-2914


Conference21st International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS 2022
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
CityAuckland, Virtual

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering


  • Competence
  • Human-agent cooperation
  • Human-agent interaction
  • Partner choice
  • Preferences
  • Social perception
  • Warmth


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