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Social Responses to Virtual Humans: The Effect of Human-Like Characteristics

School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sung Park is now at School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design.
Academic Editor: Andrea Prati
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(16), 7214; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167214
Received: 20 July 2021 / Revised: 1 August 2021 / Accepted: 2 August 2021 / Published: 5 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Computing and Artificial Intelligence)
As a virtual human is provided with more human-like characteristics, will it elicit stronger social responses from people? Two experiments were conducted to address these questions. The first experiment investigated whether virtual humans can evoke a social facilitation response and how strong that response is when people are given different cognitive tasks that vary in difficulty. The second experiment investigated whether people apply politeness norms to virtual humans. Participants were tutored either by a human tutor or a virtual human tutor that varied in features and then evaluated the tutor’s performance. Results indicate that virtual humans can produce social facilitation not only with facial appearance but also with voice. In addition, performance in the presence of voice synced facial appearance seems to elicit stronger social facilitation than in the presence of voice only or face only. Similar findings were observed with the politeness norm experiment. Participants who evaluated their tutor directly reported the tutor’s performance more favorably than participants who evaluated their tutor indirectly. This valence toward the voice synced facial appearance had no statistical difference compared to the valence toward the human tutor condition. The results suggest that designers of virtual humans should be mindful about the social nature of virtual humans. View Full-Text
Keywords: virtual human; virtual character; embodied conversational agent; avatar; anthropomorphism; social facilitation; politeness norm; social response virtual human; virtual character; embodied conversational agent; avatar; anthropomorphism; social facilitation; politeness norm; social response
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MDPI and ACS Style

Park, S.; Catrambone, R. Social Responses to Virtual Humans: The Effect of Human-Like Characteristics. Appl. Sci. 2021, 11, 7214. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167214

AMA Style

Park S, Catrambone R. Social Responses to Virtual Humans: The Effect of Human-Like Characteristics. Applied Sciences. 2021; 11(16):7214. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167214

Chicago/Turabian Style

Park, Sung, and Richard Catrambone. 2021. "Social Responses to Virtual Humans: The Effect of Human-Like Characteristics" Applied Sciences 11, no. 16: 7214. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167214

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