A Computational Approach to Etiquette: Operationalizing Brown and Levinson's Politeness Model
Keywords: culture modeling, social interaction, politeness, etiquette, power, familiarity, imposition, urgency
Abstract: A central source of cultural differences, with powerful impacts on perception and behavior, is communication of “politeness” and its role power and familiarity relationships, urgency, indebtedness, etc. We are operationalizing and making computational a culturally abstract and universal theory of human politeness which combines culture-specific aspects of social context (power and familiarity relationships, imposition, character), to produce expectations about politeness behaviors (also culturally defined). Such a model will enable better training materials, simulations, and even better decision aids. By using observations of politeness behaviors (or their lack), the same model can infer those attributes. We describe our algorithm and results from two validation experiments. We have used this model to guide simulated game agents in interpreting and generating politeness behaviors and have demonstrated promise for reducing software development costs and/or increasing an agent’s behavior repertoire through the creation of modular, crosscultural etiquette libraries.