Lying to a laptop so we don’t hurt its feelings, yelling at a GPS in frustration, feeling flattered by random praise from a computer—people act strangely around artificial intelligence.
Stranger still is that how we act around computers is so similar to how we act toward other people, and that we can learn a lot about human interaction from how we respond to computers.
Pioneering researcher Clifford Nass has done numerous experiments centered around human-computer interaction that not only expose the similarities between how we act toward technology and how we act toward people but that illuminate the surprising nature of person-to-person interactions.
Nass has been able to show that, from flattery to empathy to loyalty, many aspects of human behavior and emotion are the same whether we’re dealing with computers or people. Based on his findings, Nass has developed rules for successful relationships in any area of life. For instance:
- Don’t smile to soften criticism—match your delivery to your content for best results;
- Crack jokes—innocent humor makes people happier with their work without harming their efficiency (and the joke doesn’t even have to be funny!);
- Empathize—acting happy around a sad person (or vice versa) makes that person perform demonstrably worse at task.
The way we treat computers has deep ramifications for everything from praise and criticism to credibility and team-building. Nass is pushing into the next frontier of behavioral science. Download and start listening now!