Conversational Agents in Virtual Worlds: Immersion and the Conversational Record

Bob Heller, Mike Procter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Conversational agents (CAs) are computer programmes designed to chat with users in natural language using the rules of conversation and turn-taking. In our research, we have been investigating historical figure applications (i.e. Freudbot), their role in virtual worlds and, in particular, whether conversational logs can reveal evidence of social presence that occurs as a consequence of immersion in a virtual world. In this chapter we adopt a linguistic approach to analyse the conversational logs from participants who chatted with Freudbot in a virtual world (i.e. Second Life) as opposed to participants who chatted with Freudbot in a text-only condition. We hypothesised that the virtual office space and a Freudbot avatar would give rise to a greater sense of social presence in comparison to a non-virtual context. The results support the hypothesis as conversation logs from Second Life had significantly higher proportions of lexical categories arguably associated with social presence (Personal Pronouns, Biological, and Perceptual) and lower proportions of lexical categories less likely to be associated with social presence (Cognition). These findings build on previous work conducted on conversational logs and provide directions for future work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAt the Edge of the Rift
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781848883215
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan. 2019


  • Conversational agents
  • immersion
  • linguistic analysis
  • social presence


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