Anthropomorphism brings us closer: The mediating role of psychological distance in User–AI assistant interactions

Xinge Li, Yongjun Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the current era, interacting with Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an everyday activity. Understanding the interaction between humans and AI is of potential value because, in future, such interactions are expected to become more pervasive. Two studies—one survey and one experiment—were conducted to demonstrate positive effects of anthropomorphism on interactions with smart-speaker-based AI assistants and to examine the mediating role of psychological distance in this relationship. The results of Study 1, an online survey, showed that participants with a higher tendency to anthropomorphize their AI assistant/s evaluated it/them more positively, and this effect was mediated by psychological distance. In Study 2, the hypotheses were tested in a more sophisticated experiment. Again, the results indicated that, in the high-anthropomorphism (vs. low-anthropomorphism) condition, participants had more positive attitudes toward the AI assistant, and the effect was mediated by psychological distance. Though several studies have demonstrated the effect of anthropomorphism, few have probed the underlying mechanism of anthropomorphism thoroughly. The current research not only contributes to the anthropomorphism literature, but also provides direction to research on facilitating human–AI interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106680
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume118
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May

Keywords

  • AI assistant
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Human–AI interaction
  • Psychological distance
  • Smart speaker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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