Do We Treat Computers Like People? Research Says Yes

The Man Who Lied to his LaptopAs it turns out, we have much deeper ‘relationships’ with our computers and other gadgets (think cars) than we think we do. Stanford professor, Clifford Nass, has done the research and even written a book (The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships) on the subject.

We treat computers and other devices like people: we empathize with them, argue with them, and form bonds with them. We even lie to them to protect their feelings.

From an article he wrote in the WSJ:

After being tutored by a computer, half of the participants were asked about the computer’s performance by the computer itself and the other half were asked by an identical computer across the room. Remarkably, the participants gave significantly more positive responses to the computer that asked about itself than they did to the computer across the room. These weren’t overly sensitive people: They were graduate students in computer science and electrical engineering, all of whom insisted that they would never be polite to a computer.