Title: Online shopping during the Covid-19 crisis: the impact of anthropomorphic virtual agents on consumers' psychological states

Authors: Sihem Ben Saad; Fatma Choura

Addresses: Business Department, Carthage Business School, University of Tunis Carthage, Avenue Fattouma Bourguiba, Tunis 2036, La Soukra, Tunisia ' Higher Institute of Computer Science, University of Tunis El Manar, Rue Abourraihan Al Bayrouni, Ariana 2080, Tunisia; Laboratory LIGUE, University of La Manouba, 2010, Tunisia

Abstract: Because of the unpredictability and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, online shopping and the use of artificial intelligence featured in the e-commerce have helped companies in attracting clients through a better online shopping environment and experience. However, the e-commerce still lacks human warmth to pretend and equalise with in-store human interactions and experience. This paper addresses this issue by examining the anthropomorphic characteristics of the embodied virtual agent and by measuring their impact on the user's state of flow and telepresence experience. To identify the characteristics that could potentially make virtual agents more 'humanised', an exploratory approach was implemented. An experimentation survey with 660 internet users followed to test the relation between the anthropomorphic dimensions of embodied virtual agents and consumers' psychological states and online word of mouth. Our findings confirm the influence of the anthropomorphic characteristics investigated in improving consumers' psychological states.

Keywords: Covid-19; anthropomorphism; flow state; telepresence experience; electronic word of mouth; perceived risk.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTMKT.2022.122450

International Journal of Technology Marketing, 2022 Vol.16 No.1/2, pp.27 - 49

Received: 19 Mar 2021
Accepted: 11 May 2021

Published online: 25 Apr 2022 *

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