­A Dive into Deepfake Persona User Perceptions

Personas are fictitious people that represent a group of users bringing e.g., designers closer to the end user. Personas are widely used in various solutions in design, HCI, and marketing, and personas are classically delivered as pdf’s but sometimes also as videos, or narrative text personas. Deepfakes, then again, are computer-generated human-like characters usually presented in a video format. Deepfake personas are a combination of these two, presenting personas as deepfakes characters.

Deepfake technology, known for its capability to create realistic but synthetic characters, is revolutionizing many sectors in business, design, education, and computing to name a few. In the realm of design and human-computer interaction (HCI), the application of deepfakes in creating user personas has sparked some debate. How do users perceive these AI-generated deepfake personas? Are deepfake personas more effective or eerie? Insights from our research on deepfake user personas reveal that there is potential for the use of deepfakes in various solutions in design and HCI.

We found the impact of perceived deepfake realism during design tasks to be a major contributor to perceived empathy, credibility, and immersiveness. By comparing deepfake personas against their traditional counterparts – classic and narrative personas. Participants found deepfake personas to be less empathetic, credible, and immersive. The eerie ‘uncanny valley’ effect, where a humanoid object appears almost, but not exactly, like a real human, and thus feels creepy, seemed to play a part. This suggests that while the deepfake technology is promising, it might still need refinement before being widely adopted in design tasks.

In another study about deepfake user personas, we compared the perceptions between deepfake personas and real human beings. Taking a qualitative approach, we dived into the nuances of how users interact with and perceive deepfake personas compared to humans. Through meticulous analysis of participants’ interactions, the study unearthed five central themes for deepfake user perception:

  • Realism: The striking lifelikeness of deepfake personas.
  • User Needs: How well the personas communicate user requirements.
  • Distracting Properties: Elements that might sidetrack users.
  • Added Value: The unique benefits deepfakes bring to the table.
  • Rapport: The connection and relationship between users and personas.

The study underscored the challenges and opportunities in the realm of deepfake user perceptions. For HCI to truly harness the power of deepfakes, technology developers have a few hurdles to overcome.


Deepfake personas, with their uncanny realism, are both promising and perplexing. As the two studies suggest, while the potential is vast, the path is riddled with challenges. The key lies in refining the technology, making it more user-friendly, and understanding the intricate nuances of human perceptions. As we stand on the cusp of this AI revolution, one thing is clear – the future of design and HCI is set to be anything but mundane.


Kaate, I., Salminen, J., Santos, J., Jung, S.-G., Olkkonen, R., & Jansen, B. (2023). The Realness of Fakes: Primary Evidence of the Effect of Deepfake Personas on User Perceptions in a Design Task. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 103096. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2023.103096
Kaate, I., Salminen, J., Jung, S.-G., Almerekhi, H., & Jansen, B. J. (2023). How Do Users Perceive Deepfake Personas? Investigating the Deepfake User Perception and Its Implications for Human-Computer Interaction. Proceedings of the 15th Biannual Conference of the Italian SIGCHI Chapter, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1145/3605390.3605397
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