Beyond embodiment and social presence: preferences for virtual assistant gender and clothing style

Jeunese A. Payne, Andrea Szymkowiak, Graham I. Johnson, Paul Robertson, Rosemary Henderson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


While introducing a human-like embodied character can enhance social presence in computing technology, it can often be poorly received because user preferences for particular appearance-based attributes are not taken into account. To investigate some of these preferences, specifically gender and dress code, this paper extends the findings of a small exploratory, interview-based study, to data obtained from 390 participants aged between 16 and 82 who chose their preferred three-dimensional virtual assistant (VA) as part of an interaction with a self-service checkout (SSCO) simulation. These data were collected from visitors to an exhibition at a science center in the UK. Chi-Square tests revealed a preference for female VAs, but only by female participants. There was no preference for formality of dress. The paper discusses the appropriateness of the following psychological theories to explain these results: the stereotype content model, the behaviors from intergroup affect and stereotype (BIAS) map framework, and the shifting standards model of stereotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventInternational Society for Presence Research Annual Conference - Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Duration: 25 Oct 201226 Oct 2012


ConferenceInternational Society for Presence Research Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleISPR 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

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