Yasmine Fazazi | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Yasmine Fazazi head shot

Name: Yasmine Fazazi
Title: The Buddy System: Incorporating AI in mental health – Mobile app development & Empirical study of AI perceptions
Major: Computer Science; Psychology
Minor: Data Science
Advisors: Heather Guarnera; Nathan Foster

There has been a recent push to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) in mental health care. In the context of mental health applications, people’s willingness to use AI depends on their attitudes and familiarity with these new technologies. As such, this study had two primary goals: (1) to develop a mental health companion app, Buddy, with an AI-powered chatbot, Sofia, and (2) to conduct a psychological study investigating how different factors (age, openness, chatbot name, and familiarity) affect users’ positive or negative perceptions of AI. Both elements of this project work together to ensure that Buddy was developed effectively for its target audience. Buddy was implemented using Flutter and the integration of the Gemini large language model. The psychological research of this project used mediation analysis to evaluate two explanations for positive perceptions of AI, with both openness and familiarity with AI as the two significant contributors to this study. Participants were randomly assigned to read about a chatbot named either “MyAI” or “Sofia” to investigate if the naming moderated the degree to which the framing of technologies affected perceptions of such apps. The results of these analyses supported that personality traits were strong predictors of positive perceptions of AI, however, the hypothesized impact of the framing effect was not supported. Overall, this research allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the current acceptance of AI within the context of mental health care, and how to leverage technological tools, like AI, in a field requiring our attention with the rising demand for mental health services.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 25, 2024.