Effects of Virtual Humans’ Gender and Spoken Accent on Users’ Perceptions of Expertise in Mental Wellness Conversations Title

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ACM Intelligent Virtual Agents




In the context of mental wellness support, trust and intimacy between a counselor and a patient are necessary to converge healing processes positively. However, convincing students to trust a virtual human for topics regarding mental wellness is a complex problem that requires understanding students' experiences. Based on research that discusses mental health as a concerning topic regarding Computer Science (CS) students, this paper investigates how undergraduate computing-related students perceive virtual humans' expertise on mental wellness support based on demographic resemblance on spoken accent and gender. Four virtual human counselors were developed to conduct the study, as 58 undergraduate computing-related students from two North American universities were recruited and assessed. Our findings suggest that students were less inclined to interact with a male virtual human than a female one. Also, that spoken accents can impact students' perceptions of expertise under students' multilingualism.