This study is based on the first author’s doctoral dissertation, for which the second author was the primary advisor. This paper was accepted under the editorship of James P. Dillard.
When a Talking-Face Computer Agent is Half-Human and Half-Humanoid: Human Identity and Consistency Preference
Article first published online: 21 MAR 2007
Human Communication Research
Volume 33, Issue 2, pages 163–193, April 2007
How to Cite
Gong, L. and Nass, C. (2007), When a Talking-Face Computer Agent is Half-Human and Half-Humanoid: Human Identity and Consistency Preference. Human Communication Research, 33: 163–193. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2007.00295.x
- Issue published online: 21 MAR 2007
- Article first published online: 21 MAR 2007
Computer-generated anthropomorphic characters are a growing type of communicator that is deployed in digital communication environments. An essential theoretical question is how people identify humanlike but clearly artificial, hence humanoid, entities in comparison to natural human ones. This identity categorization inquiry was approached under the framework of consistency and tested through examining inconsistency effects from mismatching categories. Study 1 (N = 80), incorporating a self-disclosure task, tested participants’ responses to a talking-face agent, which varied in four combinations of human versus humanoid faces and voices. In line with the literature on inconsistency, the pairing of a human face with a humanoid voice or a humanoid face with a human voice led to longer processing time in making judgment of the agent and less trust than the pairing of a face and a voice from either the human or the humanoid category. Female users particularly showed negative attitudes toward inconsistently paired talking faces. Study 2 (N = 80), using a task that stressed comprehension demand, replicated the inconsistency effects on judging time and females’ negative attitudes but not for comprehension-related outcomes. Voice clarity overshadowed the consistency concern for comprehension-related responses. The overall inconsistency effects suggest that people treat humanoid entities in a different category from natural human ones.