Recent technological advancements promise new potentials for the use of therapeutic conversational agents (CAs) to deliver mental health interventions. However, both researchers and practitioners face challenges in anthropomorphizing therapeutic CAs for more human-like interactions while avoiding the uncanny feeling from users. Drawing upon the literature of CA anthropomorphism and the uncanny valley theory, the current short paper offers a novel insight into users’ receptivity to therapeutic CAs. It differentiates CAs’ anthropomorphic design features as visual and verbal anthropomorphism and examines their distinct and contrast effects on user perception and advice adherence. We developed a research design to test our model by deploying a 3x2 experiment. We believe this study will provide important contributions that are crucial for the anthropomorphic design of CAs and understanding of the uncanny valley effect in the therapeutic healthcare service setting.
Cui, Tingru; Wang, Xinwei; and Qi, Jianzhong, "Designing Anthropomorphic Therapeutic Conversational Agents: An Uncanny Valley Perspective" (2021). ECIS 2021 Research-in-Progress Papers. 30.
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