The Effect of Visual Gender on Abuse in Conversation with ECAs

  • Annika Silvervarg
  • Kristin Raukola
  • Magnus Haake
  • Agneta Gulz
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7502)


Previous studies have shown that female ECAs are more likely to be abused than male agents, which may cement gender stereotypes. In the study reported in this paper a visually androgynous ECA in the form of a teachable agent in an educational math game was compared with a female and male agent. The results confirm that female agents are more prone to be verbally abused than male agents, but also show that the visually androgynous agent was less abused than the female although more than the male agent. A surprising finding was that very few students asked the visually androgynous agent whether it was a boy or a girl. These results suggest that androgyny may be a way to keep both genders represented, which is especially important in pedagogical settings, simultaneously lowering the abusive behavior and perhaps most important, loosen the connection between gender and abuse.


Embodied conversational agent pedagogical agent teachable agent social conversation off-task conversation visual gender abuse 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annika Silvervarg
    • 1
  • Kristin Raukola
    • 1
  • Magnus Haake
    • 2
  • Agneta Gulz
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Computer and Information ScienceLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Cognitive ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden

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