Empathic communication allows individuals to perceive and understand the feeling and emotion of the person with whom they are interacting. This could be particularly important during remote collaboration (such as remote assistance or distance learning) to enhance the social and emotional understanding of geographically distributed partners. However, supporting awareness in remote collaboration is very challenging especially when the interaction with the remote parties results in less information that can be communicated than in a physical interaction. We explore the effect of visualization using physiological cues that allow users to interpret emotional behaviors of remote parties with whom they are interacting in real time. The proposed visual representation allows users to infer emotional patterns from physiological cues that can potentially influence their communication approach toward a more aggressive style or maintain passive and peaceful interaction. We conducted a study involving participants who were paired up for a collaborative assessment task, interacting via voice only, videoconference, or a visual representation of the physiological measurements. Participants perceived the usage of our visual representation with higher group cohesiveness than using voice-only interaction. Further analysis shows that the visual representation significantly increases the positive affect score (i.e., participants are perceived to be more alert and demonstrate less distress) during remote collaboration. We discuss the possibilities of the proposed visual representation to support empathic communication during remote collaboration, and the benefits to the remote partners of having positive affect and group cohesiveness.

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