Parkinson Patients' Initial Trust in Avatars: Theory and Evidence

Andrija Javor, Gerhard Ransmayr, Walter Struhal, René Riedl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the motor system and cognitive and behavioral functions. Due to these impairments, PD patients also have problems in using the computer. However, using computers and the Internet could help these patients to overcome social isolation and enhance information search. Specifically, avatars (defined as virtual representations of humans) are increasingly used in online environments to enhance human-computer interaction by simulating face-to-face interaction. Our laboratory experiment investigated how PD patients behave in a trust game played with human and avatar counterparts, and we compared this behavior to the behavior of age, income, education and gender matched healthy controls. The results of our study show that PD patients trust avatar faces significantly more than human faces. Moreover, there was no significant difference between initial trust of PD patients and healthy controls in avatar faces, while PD patients trusted human faces significantly less than healthy controls. Our data suggests that PD patients' interaction with avatars may constitute an effective way of communication in situations in which trust is required (e.g., a physician recommends intake of medication). We discuss the implications of these results for several areas of human-computer interaction and neurological research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0165998
Pages (from-to)e0165998
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Aged
  • Communication
  • Face/physiology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease/psychology
  • User-Computer Interface


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