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J Commun. 2018 Aug;68(4):712-733. doi: 10.1093/joc/jqy026. Epub 2018 May 30.

Psychological, Relational, and Emotional Effects of Self-Disclosure After Conversations With a Chatbot.

Author information

1
Department of Communication, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
3
Clinical Excellence Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

Abstract

Disclosing personal information to another person has beneficial emotional, relational, and psychological outcomes. When disclosers believe they are interacting with a computer instead of another person, such as a chatbot that can simulate human-to-human conversation, outcomes may be undermined, enhanced, or equivalent. Our experiment examined downstream effects after emotional versus factual disclosures in conversations with a supposed chatbot or person. The effects of emotional disclosure were equivalent whether participants thought they were disclosing to a chatbot or to a person. This study advances current understanding of disclosure and whether its impact is altered by technology, providing support for media equivalency as a primary mechanism for the consequences of disclosing to a chatbot.

KEYWORDS:

Chatbot; Communication and Technology; Computers as Social Actors; Conversational AI; Conversational Agent; Digital Assistant; Human-machine communication; Self-Disclosure; Well-Being

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