Why do consumers with social phobia prefer anthropomorphic customer service chatbots? Evolutionary explanations of the moderating roles of social phobia

S. Venus Jin*, Seounmi Youn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drawing from evolutionary psychology of anthropomorphism and social phobia, two between-subjects experiments examined the effects of different types of customer service chatbots. Experiment 1 supports the interaction effects between chatbots’ anthropomorphism and consumers’ social phobia on continuance use intention and willingness to recommend the chatbot. Consumers with high social phobia prefer anthropomorphic chatbots to less anthropomorphic chatbots. Experiment 2 confirms the moderating role of social phobia in determining the effects of consumer-chatbot personality matching (similarity attraction) vs. mismatching (complementarity attraction) on the outcome variables only for competent chatbots. For the consumer-chatbot personality mismatching condition, developing competent chatbots for less conscientious consumers with high social phobia will help alleviate socially isolated consumers’ social pain, while developing too smart chatbots for less conscientious consumers with low social phobia can have detrimental effects. Evolutionary psychological mechanisms and managerial implications for chatbot developers and creative directors are explained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101644
JournalTelematics and Informatics
Volume62
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Chatbots
  • Evolutionary psychology of social phobia
  • Similarity vs. complementarity attraction
  • Sociality, effectance, & elicited agent knowledge (SEEK) model of anthropomorphism
  • Stereotype Content Model (SCM) of warmth-competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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