Re/Framing Virtual Conversational Partners: A Feminist Critique and Tentative Move Towards a New Design Paradigm

  • Sheryl BrahnamEmail author
  • Margaret Weaver
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9187)


A major research agenda in HCI is the development of believable agents. Because believability has become linked to gendered personification, designers have relied on stereotypes for both the physical rendering and verbal responses of these agents. Conversational agents are even scripted to handle “abuse” in stereotypical ways. Such scripting, however, often escalates the abuse. While the demand for anthropomorphized agents may necessitate a reliance on bodily stereotypes, the verbal responses of the agents need not be scripted according to gendered expectations. We explore the design of conversational agents as a rhetorical enterprise that can deconstruct overtly gendered patterns of interaction.


Feminist HCI Embodied conversational agents Agent abuse Rhetoric Ethos Anthropomorphism Personified interface 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Information SystemsMissouri State UniversitySpringfieldUSA
  2. 2.Department of EnglishMissouri State UniversitySpringfieldUSA

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