Virtual assistants could be used for life coaching •

Life coaching, a process in which an expert helps a person identify and achieve their most important personal and professional goals, is increasingly in vogue. Such support is also used by groups and companies. Recently, a research team led by Pompeu Fabra University in Spain investigated the possibility of using virtual life coaches instead of real people.

“Using coaching models, we programmed a voice-only conversational agent, which would guide people to achieve their goals in the same way that a human coach guides you through your session through questions,” explained lead author of the study, Dr. Laura Aymerich-Franch. , researcher at Pompeu Fabra University. “In this study, we found that by using the app that we created, the psychological well-being of the participants improved.”

Dr Aymerich-Franch and his colleagues created an app called NORIKA, which could be installed on a smartphone and operated using a very simple visual interface. In order to test it, the researchers asked 30 participants to work with NORIKA to decide which aspects of their life they wanted to focus on, find the core values ​​for those specific aspects, identify a goal based on SMART (specific, measurable, achievable , relevant and timely) and put them into practice.

To test the effectiveness of the virtual assistant, scientists measured variables such as personal growth (Personal Growth Initiative Scale or PGI), life satisfaction (Life Satisfaction Scale or SLS) and the implementation of the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS).

“The results revealed a significant increase in PGI and SLS values, and in turn an equally significant decrease in negative emotions (PANAS) compared to the state before the start of the sessions,” explained Dr. Aymerich-Franch. “This suggests that the coaching program positively contributed to psychological well-being, life satisfaction and personal growth. “

“Everything seems to indicate that [virtual coaches such as NORIKA] will be more and more present in the house. Although at this time the conversational agent cannot offer the same capabilities and services as a session with a coach or therapist, it can be used to eliminate behavioral barriers that still exist when seeking therapeutic support for patients. improve psychological well-being, ”Dr Aymerich -Franch concluded.

The study is published in the International journal of human and computer studies.

Through Andrei Ionescu, Editor-in-chief

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