Acceptance of anthropomorphic technology.


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Just as the way a person looks and/or behaves affects human-to-human interaction, it may also affect the interaction of humans with avatars, digital characters, and computer interfaces. Anthropomorphic technology is technology that looks or behaves like human beings and is increasingly playing an important role in human-to-computer interactional processes. Extant research informs user responses of familiarity and acceptance to anthropomorphic technology, but also withdrawal from and rejection of anthropomorphic technology due to the presence of the uncanny valley, threat to the human distinctiveness, or the undermining of traditional expectations from machines. Integration on the topic is sparse, and with advancements in natural face technology and artificial intelligence, the extent of “human-likeness” continues to change and evolve. Moreover, with anthropomorphic technology becoming mainstream, user preferences continue to alter. To help resolve some of the ambiguity surrounding anthropomorphic design and add updated knowledge to the current body of research, this dissertation presents an organizing and assessing review to integrate extant literature studying anthropomorphic technology and present a research agenda. It then conducts three online experiments to assess user perceptions of the credibility and persuasiveness of virtual influencers. Virtual influencers are computer-generated images that project advanced levels of visual realism and are prevalent in the digital environment. In the papers presented, we test extant theoretical perspectives and challenge the increasing investments in anthropomorphic visual design. We present a case for the development of less human-like digital characters for better utility and acceptance, especially in the case of persuasion.