Talking avatar is a person-like animated character that can be used for online video presentations or to interact with other characters. This virtual human can be animated to speak, move and express facial expressions, as well as change its appearance with different hairstyles, accessories and backgrounds. It is an effective way to convey information and to make video presentations more engaging and interactive.
Recent studies incorporating talking avatars have revealed positive effects on consumers’ perceptions of social presence. In particular, Alves and Soares found that a website with talking avatar induced higher perceived social presence than a plain text-based e-commerce site. Similarly, Chattaraman et al. found that a non-interactive talking avatar increased the perceived social presence of senior-aged internet users.
The present study aims to investigate whether consumer gender moderates the effects of non-interactive talking avatars on perceived social presence, information credibility, website trust and patronage intention. A 2 (non-interactive talking avatar: present versus absent) x 2 (user gender: male vs. female) between-subjects laboratory experiment was conducted. The results showed that the presence of a non-interactive talking avatar influenced perceived social presence but had negative impact on website trust and patronage intention. This may be due to the difference in information processing strategies between male and female internet users.
There are a number of software options for creating talking avatars. Some of them are designed for a specific purpose, such as websites or presentation avatars, while others are more general in nature and can be used in any type of media. Some of these programs provide extensive options for customization of the facial expressions, voice and movements while others only offer basic features and do not support the lip-sync of audio with the movement of the avatar. talking avatar