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Effectiveness of an Empathic Chatbot in Combating Adverse Effects of Social Exclusion on Mood

de Gennaro, M; Krumhuber, EG; Lucas, G; (2020) Effectiveness of an Empathic Chatbot in Combating Adverse Effects of Social Exclusion on Mood. Frontiers in Psychology , 10 , Article 3061. 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03061. Green open access

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Abstract

From past research it is well known that social exclusion has detrimental consequences for mental health. To deal with these adverse effects, socially excluded individuals frequently turn to other humans for emotional support. While chatbots can elicit social and emotional responses on the part of the human interlocutor, their effectiveness in the context of social exclusion has not been investigated. In the present study, we examined whether an empathic chatbot can serve as a buffer against the adverse effects of social ostracism. After experiencing exclusion on social media, participants were randomly assigned to either talk with an empathetic chatbot about it (e.g., “I’m sorry that this happened to you”) or a control condition where their responses were merely acknowledged (e.g., “Thank you for your feedback”). Replicating previous research, results revealed that experiences of social exclusion dampened the mood of participants. Interacting with an empathetic chatbot, however, appeared to have a mitigating impact. In particular, participants in the chatbot intervention condition reported higher mood than those in the control condition. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications, as well as directions for future research are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: Effectiveness of an Empathic Chatbot in Combating Adverse Effects of Social Exclusion on Mood
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03061
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03061
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 de Gennaro, Krumhuber and Lucas. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: social exclusion, empathy, mood, chatbot, virtual human
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10090248
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