Digital chameleons

Studying the effect of mimicry by a virtual agent on user’s trust

Duration: 

May 2012 – July 2012

Brief: 

Earlier research suggested that mimicry increases liking and trust in other people. Because people respond socially to technology and mimicry leads to the increased liking of virtual agents, we expected that a mimicking virtual agent would be liked and trusted more than a non-mimicking one. We investigated this expectation in an automotive setting. We performed an experiment in which participants played an investment game and a route planner game, to measure their behavioral trust in two virtual agents. These agents either mimicked participant’s head movements or not. Liking and trust of these virtual agents were measured with questionnaires. Results suggested that for the investment game, mimicry did not increase liking or trust. For the route planner game, however, a mimicking virtual agent was liked and trusted more than a non-mimicking virtual agent. These results suggest that mimicry could be a useful tool to persuade users to trust a virtual agent.


Technology Used:

SPSS, Authorware, Vizard VM, Flock of Birds Motion Sensor

Role: 

Experiment Design, Data Collection, Data Analysis

Skills Developed: 

Experiment Design, Mediation Analysis, Authorware Programming

Related Publications:

Verberne, F. M., Ham, J., Ponnada, A., & Midden, C. J. (2013). Trusting digital chameleons: The effect of mimicry by a virtual social agent on user trust. In Persuasive Technology(pp. 234-245). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Collaborators:

Prof. Jaap Ham (Prof., Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands), Prof. Cees Midden (Prof., Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands), Dr. Frank Verberne (Interpersonal Relations Researcher)