To gain insight into how Internet users perceive human images, a controlled experiment was conducted using a survey, interviews, and an eye-tracking device. Three experimental conditions of human images were created including (1) human images with facial features; (2) human images but with no facial features; and (3) no human images. It was expected that human images with facial features would induce a user to perceive the website as more appealing, having warmth or social presence, and as more trustworthy. In turn, image appeal and perceived social presence were predicted to result in trust. All expected relationships in the model were supported except no direct relationship was found between the human image conditions and trust. Another goal of the research was to examine user reactions by cultural group, and differing reactions were observed between Canadian, German, and Japanese related to perceptions of use of human images in website design.
Cyr, Dianne; Head, Milena; Larios, Hector; and Pan, Bing, "Exploring Human Images in Website Design Across Cultures: A Multi-Method Approach" (2006). SIGHCI 2006 Proceedings. Paper 6.