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Home>UPDATE: Couples therapists can use artificial intelligence to save relationships

UPDATE: Couples therapists can use artificial intelligence to save relationships

UPDATE: Couples therapists can use artificial intelligence to save relationships

10/06/2017

By Jurica Dujmovic, MarketWatch

Algorithms detect tone of voice, helping to determine improvement or deterioration in interactions

Every personal relationship is bound to hit a rough patch, sooner or later. Some recover, while others disintegrate. To stop this from happening, therapists now have a new tool at their disposal: artificial intelligence, or AI.

The framework designed by researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Utah (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185123) can estimate the length of each individual relationship by analyzing the tone of voice that partners use when addressing each other during problem-solving interactions. These acoustic features, once fed into the algorithm, provide cues for determining if there's been any improvement (or deterioration) since the last therapy appointment, as well as the change in the relationship status.

To provide data for machine learning, scientists gathered information from 134 couples, a total of 229 recorded audio samples. Features such as pitch, intensity, jitter and shimmer were used as essential speech properties and primary parameters for audio analysis. (Jitter is the short-term cycle-to-cycle variation of pitch, whereas the analogous quantity for amplitude is called shimmer.)

Those values are known to provide critical data necessary to detect the emotion of the speaker, as well as their other psychological states. After the data was introduced to the algorithm, it was time to test it.

To provide a benchmark, scientists used standardized behavioral codes used by human experts when evaluating relationship dynamics. In addition, experts were asked to review the video footage of the couples' interactions. The test results showed that the analyses made by the AI were on par with, or even better, than those provided by human counterparts. Furthermore, the combination of the two had an even higher success rate, showing the potential of using both methods during individual sessions.

Combination therapy

The algorithm's task isn't to determine the expiration date of a relationship, but to help improve it by gauging ups and downs, and determining a trend and prognosis based on other relationships in the database. It aims to provide a valuable set of cues for the psychotherapist, which, combined with their own expertise, could increase their chance of improving relationships for couples in therapy.

For the rest of us, this is a reminder that tone of voice plays a vital role in daily interactions. So be kind to each other and pay attention not only to the words that come out of your mouth, but also to the tone in which you convey them.

-Jurica Dujmovic; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-06-17 0512ET

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