Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Advanced information technologies (ITs) are increasingly assuming tasks that have previously required human capabilities, such as learning and judgment. What drives this technology anthropomorphism (TA), or the attribution of humanlike characteristics to IT? What is it about users, IT, and their interactions that influences the extent to which people think of technology as humanlike? While TA can have positive effects, such as increasing user trust in technology, what are the negative consequences of TA? To provide a framework for addressing these questions, we advance a theory of TA that integrates the general three-factor anthropomorphism theory in social and cognitive psychology with the needs-affordances-features perspective from the information systems (IS) literature. The theory we construct helps to explain and predict which technological features and affordances are likely: (1) to satisfy users’ psychological needs, and (2) to lead to TA. More importantly, we problematize some negative consequences of TA. Technology features and affordances contributing to TA can intensify users’ anchoring with their elicited agent knowledge and psychological needs and also can weaken the adjustment process in TA under cognitive load. The intensified anchoring and weakened adjustment processes increase egocentric biases that lead to negative consequences. Finally, we propose a research agenda for TA and egocentric biases.





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