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Psychological, relational, and emotional effects of self-disclosure after conversations with a chatbot


Disclosing personal information to another person has beneficial emotional, relational, and psychological outcomes. When disclosers believe they are interacting with a computer instead of another person, such as a chatbot that can simulate human-to-human conversation, outcomes may be undermined, enhanced, or equivalent. Our experiment examined downstream effects after emotional versus factual disclosures in conversations with a supposed chatbot or person. The effects of emotional disclosure were equivalent whether participants thought they were disclosing to a chatbot or to a person. This study advances current understanding of disclosure and whether its impact is altered by technology, providing support for media equivalency as a primary mechanism for the consequences of disclosing to a chatbot.

A. Ho
J.T. Hancock
A.S. Miner
Journal of Communication, 68(4), 712–733
Publication Date
August 1, 2018