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Surprising Science

Emotional Computers

To what extent do we treat computers like humans? If computers praised our abilities, told us we were doing a good job, would it flatter us or would we see through the artificial compliments?

“Stanford’s Clifford Nass has devoted his career to understanding how people interact with computers. In hundreds of papers, one key lesson emerged: we treat computers like people, even though they clearly are not. He used that insight to improve design interfaces, making them friendlier and more helpful.” Clifford designed an experiment to observe how people reacted to compliments given by a computer regardless of whether the compliments were accurate. Even in cases where subjects believed the compliments were in accurate, their feelings toward the computer were more positive than uncomplimentary machines.


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