Abstract

We report on an experiment that examined the influence of anthropomorphism and perceived agency on presence, copresence, and social presence in a virtual environment. The experiment varied the level of anthropomorphism of the image of interactants: high anthropomorphism, low anthropomorphism, or no image. Perceived agency was manipulated by telling the participants that the image was either an avatar controlled by a human, or an agent controlled by a computer. The results support the prediction that people respond socially to both human and computer-controlled entities, and that the existence of a virtual image increases tele-presence. Participants interacting with the less-anthropomorphic image reported more copresence and social presence than those interacting with partners represented by either no image at all or by a highly anthropomorphic image of the other, indicating that the more anthropomorphic images set up higher expectations that lead to reduced presence when these expectations were not met.

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