May 24, 2017 – Can humanized products like Alexa meet our social needs?
Consumers have taken a liking to products they can interact with such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and iRobot’s pet-like Roomba vacuum.
Ironically, in spite of the increasing popularity of these humanized products, people have never reported feeling more alone or isolated. This raises an interesting question: Are these anthropomorphic products capable of fulfilling the social needs typically fulfilled by human interaction and, if so, at what potential cost?
University of Michigan researchers tackled the question in a series of experiments recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Carolyn Yoon, professor of marketing, and former Stephen M. Ross School of Business doctoral students Jenny Olson and James Mourey conducted four experiments and found evidence consistent with this phenomenon.
“Socially excluded people responded to exclusion in the predicted ways such as exaggerating the number of Facebook friends they have unless given the opportunity to interact with an anthropomorphic product,” Yoon said.