When too heavy is just fine: Creating trustworthy e-health advisors

H. C. van Vugt, E. A. Konijn, Johannes Ferdinand Hoorn, J. Veldhuis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In using weight and diet advisors, people compare embodied agents with their actual selves and with the person they want to be: someone with an ideal weight; their ideal selves. In a laboratory and an online experiment, we scrutinized the effects of similarity with and idealness of an embodied agent feature on user involvement with, distance towards, and intentions to use the e-health advisor. The advisor's body size was either similar or dissimilar to the user's actual body size, and had an, according to the user, ideal (slender) or non-ideal (heavier) shape. Results indicated that the factor perceived idealness was more important than similarity for explaining involvement with, distance towards, and intentions to use the embodied agent, but in an unexpected way. Users regarded the heavier, non-ideal, e-health advisors as more trustworthy, which explained the larger part of the variance in the level of involvement, distance, and intentions to use a health advisor. Sometimes, it seems better to forget the stereotypical preference and design embodied agents that are not ideal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-583
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Body size
  • Embodied agents
  • Empirical study
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Ideal similarity
  • Perception of ethics
  • Similarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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