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Abstract

This project examined how information provided in virtual worlds influences social judgment. It specifically tested the influence of anthropomorphism and agency on the level of uncertainty and social judgment, using a between-subjects experimental design. Anthropomorphism had three levels; a high anthropomorphic image, a low anthropomorphic image and no image. Agency had two levels; whether the participants were told they were interacting with a human (avatar condition) or a computer (agent condition). The results showed that the virtual image influenced social judgment. The less anthropomorphic image was perceived to be more credible and likeable than no image, which was more credible and likeable than the anthropomorphic image. There were no discernable differences in social judgment between participants who were told they were interacting with a human as compared to those told they were interacting with a computer agent, consistent with findings from previous reports. Neither anthropomorphism nor agency influenced reported levels of uncertainty. Implications of these results for those designing and using virtual environments are discussed.