Firms increasingly deploy artificial intelligence (AI) based agents for service delivery. While extant research suggests that consumers are oftentimes reluctant to rely on AI agents and prefer human agents, this short paper suggests that for vulnerable consumers the opposite should be the case. The authors theorize that vulnerable consumers make inferences about whether an agent is likely to devalue them in the service interaction. As AI agents are attributed inferior mental abilities than human agents, vulnerable consumers should deem them less capable of social devaluation, resulting in favorable firm-related and consumer-related outcomes. However, if an AI agent is anthropomorphized, the preference for AI agents should diminish or even disappear fully. Therefore, in light of consumer vulnerability, the taken-for-granted assumption of "the more human-like, the better" may not hold. The authors present the conceptual framework, derive research propositions and discuss the planned empirical studies and contributions.
Mozafari, Nika; Hammerschmidt, Maik; and Weiger, Welf H., "AI and the Vulnerable" (2022). PACIS 2022 Proceedings. 167.
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