Rudeness and rapport: Insults and learning gains in peer tutoring

Amy Ogan, Samantha Finkelstein, Erin Walker, Ryan Carlson, Justine Cassell

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

47 Scopus citations


For 20 years, researchers have envisioned artificially intelligent learning companions that evolve with their students as they grow and learn. However, while communication theory suggests that positivity decreases over time in relationships, most tutoring systems designed to build rapport with a student remain adamantly polite, and may therefore inadvertently distance the learner from the agent over time. We present an analysis of high school friends interacting in a peer tutoring environment as a step towards designing agents that sustain long-term pedagogical relationships with learners. We find that tutees and tutors use different language behaviors: tutees express more playfulness and face-threat, while tutors attend more to the task. This face-threat by the tutee is associated with increased learning gains for their tutor. Additionally, a small sample of partners who were strangers learned less than friends, and in these dyads increased face-threat was negatively correlated with learning. Our findings support the idea that learning companions should gradually move towards playful face-threat as they build relationships with their students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntelligent Tutoring Systems - 11th International Conference, ITS 2012, Proceedings
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jun 22 2012
Event11th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2012 - Chania, Crete, Greece
Duration: Jun 14 2012Jun 18 2012

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume7315 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other11th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2012
CityChania, Crete


  • ECA
  • Rapport
  • impoliteness
  • teachable agent
  • virtual peers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Rudeness and rapport: Insults and learning gains in peer tutoring'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this