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Let virtual creatures stay virtual: tactics to increase trust in virtual influencers

Let virtual creatures stay virtual: tactics to increase trust in virtual influencers Advances in technology and the popularity of social media influencers have sparked a rise of “virtual influencers (VIs).” This study examines consumer attitudes toward VIs in social networking services and explores factors that enhance or dampen these attitudes. In three experiments, it was explored how contextual factors (background and companion) interact with human (HIs) and VIs, influencing attitudes through trustworthiness.Design/methodology/approachThree experiments were conducted using an online panel (N = 894). All experiments were based on the comparison between HIs and VI with mediating role of trustworthiness. In Studies 2 and 3, moderated mediation analyses were conducted to test hypotheses.FindingsThe results revealed that human-like VI was less trusted than animi-like VI or HIs. However, the perceived trustworthiness toward VI was enhanced when the VI was in a virtual (vs. real) environment (Study 2) or accompanied by a virtual (vs. human) companion (Study 3), leading to positive attitudes.Originality/valueThis research not only enriches relevant literature (avatars and SMIs) but also provides actionable insight for practitioners who design and utilize VIs. This paper proposes novel and handy tactics to enhance consumers' trustworthiness in and attitudes toward VIs. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing Emerald Publishing

Let virtual creatures stay virtual: tactics to increase trust in virtual influencers

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References (62)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2040-7122
eISSN
2040-7122
DOI
10.1108/jrim-09-2022-0280
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Advances in technology and the popularity of social media influencers have sparked a rise of “virtual influencers (VIs).” This study examines consumer attitudes toward VIs in social networking services and explores factors that enhance or dampen these attitudes. In three experiments, it was explored how contextual factors (background and companion) interact with human (HIs) and VIs, influencing attitudes through trustworthiness.Design/methodology/approachThree experiments were conducted using an online panel (N = 894). All experiments were based on the comparison between HIs and VI with mediating role of trustworthiness. In Studies 2 and 3, moderated mediation analyses were conducted to test hypotheses.FindingsThe results revealed that human-like VI was less trusted than animi-like VI or HIs. However, the perceived trustworthiness toward VI was enhanced when the VI was in a virtual (vs. real) environment (Study 2) or accompanied by a virtual (vs. human) companion (Study 3), leading to positive attitudes.Originality/valueThis research not only enriches relevant literature (avatars and SMIs) but also provides actionable insight for practitioners who design and utilize VIs. This paper proposes novel and handy tactics to enhance consumers' trustworthiness in and attitudes toward VIs.

Journal

Journal of Research in Interactive MarketingEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 30, 2024

Keywords: Virtual influencer; Human influencer; Visual cue; Consistancy; Trust; Attitude

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