Investigating user perceptions of commercial virtual assistants: A qualitative study

Frontiers in Psychology 13 (2022)
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As commercial virtual assistants become an integrated part of almost every smart device that we use on a daily basis, including but not limited to smartphones, speakers, personal computers, watches, TVs, and TV sticks, there are pressing questions that call for the study of how participants perceive commercial virtual assistants and what relational roles they assign to them. Furthermore, it is crucial to study which characteristics of commercial virtual assistants are perceived as important for establishing affective interaction with commercial virtual assistants. By conducting 26 interviews and performing content analysis of the interview transcripts, this study investigates how the participants in the study perceive, engage, and interact with a variety of commercial virtual assistants. The results lead to better understanding of whether forms of attachment are established or if some sort of relationship is produced between humans and commercial virtual assistants. Key takeaways from our results indicate that, in their current state, the lack of humanlike characteristics in commercial virtual assistants prevents users from forming an emotional attachment to commercial virtual assistants, but this does not deter them from using anthropomorphic language to describe commercial virtual assistants. Yet, our results reveal that users expect commercial virtual assistants’ attributes to be more humanlike in the future.



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Welcoming Robots into the Moral Circle: A Defence of Ethical Behaviourism.John Danaher - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2023-2049.
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