Negative Consequences of Anthropomorphized Technology: A Bias-Threat-Illusion Model

AbstractAttributing human-like traits to information technology (IT) — leading to what is called anthropomorphized technology (AT)—is increasingly common by users of IT. Previous IS research has offered varying perspectives on AT, although it primarily focuses on the positive consequences. This paper aims to clarify the construct of AT and proposes a “bias–threat–illusion” model to classify the negative consequences of AT. Drawing on “three-factor theory of anthropomorphism” from social psychology and integrating self-regulation theory, we propose that failing to regulate the use of elicited agent knowledge and to control the intensified psychological needs (i.e., sociality and effectance) when interacting with AT leads to negative consequences: “transferring human bias,” “inducing threat to human agency,” and “creating illusionary relationship.” Based on this bias–threat–illusion model, we propose theory-driven remedies to attenuate negative consequences. We conclude with implications for IS theories and practice.

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