Anthropomorphised learning contents: Investigating learning outcomes, epistemic emotions and gaze behaviour

Anthropomorphism is defined as attributing human traits and emotions to non-human entities. In the field of emotional design in multimedia learning, anthropomorphising essential learning elements has been associated with promoting positive learning experiences. Although it has been widely used for educational purposes, there are still limitations when considering different contexts, learning variables, and non-invasive measurement. Therefore, in this study, we investigated how anthropomorphising affects and associates with learning based on three perspectives: learning outcomes, epistemic emotions, and gaze behaviour. The findings indicate that anthropomorphism did not directly affect learning achievement, perceived satisfaction, and effort or when moderated by the need for cognition. However, anthropomorphism reduced the effect of perceived negative epistemic emotions, namely Bored and Anxiety. Additionally, a comparative correlation analysis indicated that anthropomorphism significantly reduced the perception of negative epistemic emotions for learning achievement (Confused and Frustrated) and effort (Frustrated). The gaze behaviour analysis revealed that anthropomorphism only influenced the initial view and not the number of views or dwell time. However, dwell time reflected partiality towards anthropomorphised elements showing negative emotions. The results implicate design and research considerations for future studies.

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