Thursday, March 22, 2007

Happy digital faces are more successful sales droids

Li Gong's research indicates that a happy Baldi face (left) that also speaks in a happy manner is a better salesperson than a sad face speaking sadly, regardless of a product's product's emotional tone. (Credit: Dominic Massaro)An odd study, but definitely makes sense in this world of increasing internet commerce, and ubiquity of worlds such as Second Life or World of Warcraft. On Virtual Magic Kingdom (VMK), everything is so happy already, I wonder if that helps it along at all (Disneyland's world, designed for kids, with lots of weird restictions and banned words. I'm rarely on, but if you see Kallisto, say hi to me.).

"The study, appearing in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies,
found that digital characters might be better merchants if they act consistently
happy, even if the products they're selling—such as novels—are heart-wrenchingly
In the study, "Baldi" (face in the picture on the right; mouseover for credits), read happy and sad book reviews. Regardless of whether the book was happy or sad in content, the happy faced Baldi sold more books, and left an overall more positive impression.
"But the reactions of putting on a happy face didn't end there. “Participants
said they were more likely to read a book presented by the happy face
compared to the sad one,” Gong said. The participants liked a happy Baldi
more, felt it was more competent, and trusted it more than they did a sad
Still pondering what this says about human nature, as well as how this will impact our future avatar designs. I really can't imagine a happy, smiling Goth website. :-)

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