Effect of Social Actors Perceived Agency on Social Presence in Computer-Mediated Communication
Article dans une revue avec comité de lecture
Nowadays, both text-based and 3D online applications rely on conversational agents and autonomous characters to interact with users. Previous experiments demonstrated that perceived agency, that is to say, one’s belief in interacting with a computer- or another human-controlled entity could impact social interaction. At present, theories and results still diverge and no consensus has been reached. Therefore, we developed an experiment to investigate the effect of perceived agency and emotional communication on social presence. Participants were told that they would play an online image recognition game against a computer- or a human-controlled opponent. In both cases, participants faced a computer-controlled opponent designed to provide a challenging yet balanced competitive experience. Depending on the experimental conditions, participants were able to communicate with their opponents using emoticons between the game rounds. Results demonstrate a significant main effect of emotional communication on the three dimensions of social presence we considered in this experiment. An interaction effect between perceived agency and emotional communication was observed in copresence, another core dimension of social presence. The impact of emotional communication on participants’ sense of copresence depends on the perceived agency of the opponent. A significant increase was observed for participants facing a computer-controlled opponent when emotional communication was allowed. The sense of copresence was even higher when they were facing a computer-controlled opponent rather than a presumed human-controlled one. These results are discussed with regard to theories of social interaction in computer-mediated communication.
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