The Effect of Embodied Agents within the User Interface

  • Rabia Khan

Student thesis: Phd


The thesis explores the trend in recent years by HCI designers to create an interface which is increasingly more anthropomorphic in nature, due to advances in computer graphics and interface technologies. The thesis has researched the effects of one such manifestation of this anthropomorphic trend on the human user, which embodies the human persona, in the form of embodied agents.The thesis is anchored in the growing area of human-agent interaction studies; and how the agent's appearance in terms of their visual cues (i.e. gender, ethnicity, realism, and attractiveness levels), affects the human user interacting with these artificial entities. The aim of this thesis is to explore how the agents' visual appearance can elicit change in the user's perception and behaviour, in order to improve human-agent design, and the interaction experience for the user.The thesis extends HCI studies investigating the effect of embodied agents, by highlighting the effect of the attractiveness stereotype which can elicit various impressions, stereotypes and behavioural changes within the human user. The thesis results demonstrate that attractive agents were perceived and evaluated more positively, as well being more persuasive than the unattractive agents. Hence, the agents' attractiveness was the main visual cue which played a major role in affecting the participants' opinion and behaviour towards the agents.The thesis advances the current understanding of CASA, by providing evidence to suggest that although users may respond socially to agents; this human-agent experience is not always equal to human-human experience. The thesis concludes by stating that the CASA methodology and Media Equation require some modification and needs to be adapted when applied to human-agent interaction, and especially within the interaction-based context.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlistair Sutcliffe (Supervisor) & Antonella De Angeli (Supervisor)


  • embodied agents
  • attractiveness
  • persuasion
  • perception
  • stereotypes
  • behaviour

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