Effects of facial similarity on user responses to embodied agents

Henriette C. Van Vugt, Jeremy N. Bailenson, Johannes Ferdinand Hoorn, Elly A. Konijn

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the effects of facial similarity between users and embodied agents under different experimental conditions. Sixty-four undergraduates interacted with two different embodied agents: in one case the agent was designed to look somewhat similar to the user, and in the other case the agent was designed to look dissimilar. We varied between subjects how helpful the agent was for a given task. Results showed that the facial similarity manipulation sometimes affected participants' responses, even though they did not consciously detect the similarity. Specifically, when the agent was helpful, facial similarity increased participantsi ratings of involvement. However, when exposed to unhelpful agents, male participants had negative responses to the similar-looking agent compared to the dissimilar one. These results suggest that using facially similar embodied agents has a potential large downside if that embodied agent is perceived to be unhelpful.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D morphing
  • Engagement with embodied agents
  • Facial similarity
  • I-PEFiC model
  • Use intentions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction


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