Ho, A., Hancock, J.T. & Miner, A.S. (2018). Psychological, relational, and emotional effects of self-disclosure after conversations with a chatbot. Journal of Communication, 68(4), 712–733.
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.