On the relationship between mind perception and social support of chatbots

Author: Inju Lee1, Sowon Hahn1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Human Factors Psychology Lab, Department of Psychology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol
Date published: 2024 Mar 6
Other: Volume ID: 15 , Pages: 1282036 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1282036. , Word Count: 270

The social support provided by chatbots is typically designed to mimic the way humans support others. However, individuals have more conflicting attitudes toward chatbots providing emotional support (e.g., empathy and encouragement) compared to informational support (e.g., useful information and advice). This difference may be related to whether individuals associate a certain type of support with the realm of the human mind and whether they attribute human-like minds to chatbots. In the present study, we investigated whether perceiving human-like minds in chatbots affects users' acceptance of various support provided by the chatbot. In the experiment, the chatbot posed questions about participants' interpersonal stress events, prompting them to write down their stressful experiences. Depending on the experimental condition, the chatbot provided two kinds of social support: informational support or emotional support. Our results showed that when participants explicitly perceived a human-like mind in the chatbot, they considered the support to be more helpful in resolving stressful events. The relationship between implicit mind perception and perceived message effectiveness differed depending on the type of support. More specifically, if participants did not implicitly attribute a human-like mind to the chatbot, emotional support undermined the effectiveness of the message, whereas informational support did not. The present findings suggest that users' mind perception is essential for understanding the user experience of chatbot social support. Our findings imply that informational support can be trusted when building social support chatbots. In contrast, the effectiveness of emotional support depends on the users implicitly giving the chatbot a human-like mind.

Keywords: chatbot; human-computer interaction (HCI); human-like mind; mind perception; social support; user experience.

PMID: 38510306 PMCID: PMC10952123 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1282036