Widening the screen: embodied cognition and audiovisual online social interaction in the digital age

Regine Rørstad Torbjørnsen*, Inês Hipólito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Online audiovisual interaction (AVOI), though minimal, constitutes a form of embodiment. This implies that empathy can be fostered even in non-co-located individuals through online platforms. To address both the limitations and potential of online embodied interaction the article develops a framework for comprehending and cultivating empathy in the virtual realm. It argues that empathy is a skill that is fundamentally tied to our physical and sensory experiences, and therefore, dismisses the Theory of Mind (ToM) model for reducing empathy to mere mental constructs with inherent limitations. Instead, it draws upon Embodied Cognitive Science (ECS) to show that the feeling of disembodiment experienced in AVOI can be conceptualised as a “shrinking of” the social space. With the aim of both widening and deepening this space, the article introduces concrete guidelines that can help enrich the embodied and interactive experience in AVOI. Thereby, highlighting ways of integrating spatiality and physical engagement in the audiovisual online sphere, in addition to nurturing awareness and digital tact.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAI and Society
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Audiovisual Online Social Interaction (AVOI)
  • Embodied interaction
  • Empathy
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of mind
  • Video conferencing
  • "shrinking of space"

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