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Why You Hated Clippy, That Annoying Microsoft Paperclip


Stashed in: Usability!, Turing

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I'm not fond of being reminded of him, either. 

Now, a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research attempts to figure out why we harbor such disdain for Clippy and other human-like digital assistants. The researchers conclude that Clippy Hate may be a symptom of a much larger problem, especially for web developers intent on providing helpful hints with cutesy characters. The takeaway? We hate them. All of them. 

“Across six experiments, including one pilot study and five main studies, the present research showed that anthropomorphism can decrease game enjoyment,” the authors write. Why? Because when digital assistants seem too human, we start hating them just like we hate human strangers who try to help us! In other words: “we propose that computerized helpers with humanlike features can undermine individuals’ autonomy when they provide assistance.” 

Ok so what would help? Not anthropomorphizing the helper?

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