COVID-19 and Responses to Machines (03-25-21)

Researchers have found that having COVID-19 seems to influence people’s responses to machines; these findings, published in iScience, have practical implications for both  design and management, for instance. Gratch lead a team that determined that “people affected by COVID-19 [as determined by measurements of stress] are showing more goodwill — to humans and to human-like autonomous machines. ‘The new discovery here is that when people are distracted by something distressing, they treat machines socially like they would treat other people. We found greater faith in technology due to the pandemic and a closing of the gap between humans and machines,’ said Jonathan Gratch. . . . ‘Our findings show that as people interacted more via machines during the past year, perceptions about the value of technology increased, which led to more favorable responses to machines,’ Gratch said.”

Gary Polakovic. 2021.  “People Affected by COVID-19 Are Being Nicer to Machines.” Press release, University of Southern California,