Virtual relationships: Anthropomorphism in the digital age

Mayu Koike, Steve Loughnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

For most of human history we have ascribed human-like capacities to other entities (anthropomorphism). Recently, the digital age has created new entities: virtual agents. Increasingly, these virtual entities are complex and human-like, specifically designed to elicit anthropomorphism from their owners and users. We employ social psychological research and theory to review how, why, and when people come to anthropomorphise virtual agents. Moving beyond static representations, we examine the dynamics of human-virtual agent relationships and how they are encroaching on the closest of human relationships, virtual love. We use the social psychology of close relationships to examine the ways in which people may form, maintain, and terminate relationships with virtual agents. We conclude by examining the potential costs and benefits of these new relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12603
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number6
Early online date5 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 May 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • anthropomorphism
  • virtual agents
  • digital technology
  • relationships
  • close relationships
  • social bonds
  • technology


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