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.

This content is only available as a PDF.