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Table 1 Summary of studies comparing the effects of the presence versus absence of e-commerce avatars

From: Exploring the effects of a non-interactive talking avatar on social presence, credibility, trust, and patronage intention in an e-commerce website

Author Role of avatar Interactivity of avatar Findings
Alves and Soares [22] Describe the product information using verbal dialogue No Avatar with real voice had the highest effects on trust, credibility, sociability, and human warmth. Avatar with text-to-speech did not significantly affect trust and credibility as compared to non-avatar condition
Holzwarth [8] Dispense advice and recommendation related to product (helper role/personal shopper/recommender agent) Yes Avatars led to more satisfaction with the retailer, a more positive attitude towards the product, and a greater purchase intention. Attractive avatars were more persuasive when consumers were moderately involved in the purchase whereas expert avatars were marginally more persuasive when consumers were highly involved in the purchase
Qiu and Benbasat [6] Dispense advice and recommendation related to product (helper role/personal shopper/recommender agent) Yes The presence of avatar did not significantly influence trust among consumers. Avatars with text-to-speech induced higher cognitive trust in consumers than avatars with text
Etemad-Sajadi [23] Helper role/personal shopper/recommender agent Yes Avatar’s social presence had a significant impact on trust and emotional appeal, which led to increased online real-time interaction
Chattaraman et al. [5] Guide users through the shopping tasks (helper role) Yes Avatar presence enhanced perceived interactivity, social support, anxiety alleviation, trust, and intention to revisit as compared to a visually absent avatar among elderly users
Chattaraman et al. [4] Guide users through the shopping tasks (helper role) Yes Avatar presence enhanced patronage intention, social support, website trust (ability, benevolence, and integrity) and reduced perceived risk as compared to a visually absent avatar among elderly users