Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Computer Science

First Advisor

Kristina Striegnitz




right, left, agent, body, participants


Virtual agents are animated characters that use speech and gesture to interact with human users. They can serve as an intuitive interface for a variety of purposes. I am investigating the use of deictic gestures by a direction-giving agent. Deictic gestures are pointing gestures that humans often use in direction-giving to help clarify the route and destination. In my experiment, I developed a virtual agent to give directions to people to six different locations with the following spatial relationships to the starting point: left, right, left behind, right behind, left up, and right up. Three versions of the virtual agent were programmed to give directions to these locations. The versions differed in their use of gesture: no gestures; only body orientation and head gestures; and body orientation, head gestures, and arm movements. Participants received directions from my agent to six different locations using different gesture modes. Reception of the virtual agent was recorded through a survey and video recordings of the participants’ reactions to the direction-giving, as well as the path the participants took to follow the directions. The data was analyzed to assess the agent’s effectiveness. Upon analysis, the higher levels of deictic gesture appeared to be more effective, but data collected did not have statistical significance.