**Virtual Humans and Personality-Centered Design: A Comprehensive Description**
Virtual Humans (VHs) are emerging as an integral part of the modern technological landscape. Their significance is accentuated by the growing penetration rate of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices. These VHs act as intermediaries between users and information systems, becoming especially prevalent in VR and AR contexts. As the metaverse era dawns, the number of VHs is on the rise, serving as interfaces of software artifacts that resemble humans but exist in virtual domains.
In various research arenas, the VH concept has formed intricate connections with other anthropomorphic concepts. These include intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), embodied conversational agents (ECAs), socially interactive agents (SIAs), and intelligent personal assistants (IPAs). All these entities exhibit human-like features and use multimodal behaviors to interact intelligently with users. They assist users across diverse tasks, often projecting a spectrum of personalities. However, there’s a clear distinction between VHs and avatars, with the latter replicating real human personalities and behaviors.
A prominent attribute of VHs is their personality, defined as a stable set of traits that drive their behaviors and interactions across varied situations. The importance of VHs’ personalities cannot be understated, as they can shape users’ trust, actions, and their overall interactions with the VHs. Therefore, understanding and designing these personalities becomes crucial for enhancing the user’s digital experience.
However, the current landscape of VH personality design is not without challenges. While there is extensive research on human personalities, the study of VH-specific personalities remains limited. Often, the personality models of real humans are borrowed for VH design, which may not always be suitable, given the unique nature of VHs as â??interfaces of artifacts.â? Additionally, while certain facets of VH personality, like speech and animation, have seen considerable research, other nuanced characteristics remain relatively unexplored. A significant concern is the heavy reliance on designers’ intuitions and multiple rounds of user testing, making the process time-consuming and expensive. This has opened up a research gap in understanding and leveraging VH personalities for design.
To bridge this gap, three pivotal research questions have been proposed. These seek to define the core of VH personality, explore the relationship between VH personalities, roles, and behaviors, and discern how personalities shape the design of VHs. The research procedure is systematic. Initially, there’s an in-depth exploration to define VH personality’s essence, followed by the development of a VH-specific personality model. Two comprehensive studies are then conducted to investigate the correspondences between VH personalities, their roles, and behaviors.
One of the groundbreaking contributions of this research is the introduction of a personality-centered design approach for VHs. This approach unravels the intricate process of VH design, presenting design cards that visually summarize personalities and their associated design components. The research also casts light on the subtleties of VH personality, emphasizing the difference between using real human personality models and the need for VH-specific models.
The study is, however, not without its set of limitations. For example, not all descriptors of VH personality were observed in Study 1, primarily due to constraints in material collection and the contexts of existing VH applications. Moreover, some VHs have sophisticated appearances and behaviors, and the results of correspondence experiments were attained with expert input, which might introduce a degree of subjectivity.
Yet, the study’s outcomes can have significant implications for the practical world. They can guide VH development in real-world applications, enhancing the digital experience where VHs serve as the primary human-computer interface. The study forms a bedrock for further explorations into VH personalities and their design. It is hoped that future endeavors will transition from merely describing to offering more conclusive, generative tools for creating innovative VH figures.
1. Chen, S., Zhu, Z., Wang, X., Zhang, Y., Lou, S., & Xiang, W. (2023). **A personality-centred design approach for virtual humans on correspondence with roles and behaviors**.