Interviewing suspects with avatars: Avatars are more effective when perceived as human

Sabine Ströfer, Elze G. Ufkes, Merijn Bruijnes, Ellen Giebels, Matthijs L. Noordzij

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It has been consistently demonstrated that deceivers generally can be discriminated from truth tellers by monitoring an increase in their physiological response. But is this still the case when deceivers interact with a virtual avatar? The present research investigated whether the mere "belief" that the virtual avatar is computer or human operated forms a crucial factor for eliciting physiological cues to deception. Participants were interviewed about a transgression they had been seduced to commit, by a human-like virtual avatar. In a between-subject design, participants either deceived or told the truth about this transgression. During the interviews, we measured the physiological responses assessing participants' electrodermal activity (EDA). In line with our hypothesis, EDA differences between deceivers and truth tellers only were significant for participants who believed they interacted with a human operated (compared to a computer operated) avatar. These results have theoretical as well as practical implications which we will discuss.
Original languageEnglish
Article number545
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in psychology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016


  • Electrodermal activity
  • Lying
  • Operation
  • HMI-IA: Intelligent Agents
  • Deception
  • Virtual avatar
  • Suspect interview


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