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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.

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


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.


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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