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EMAC 2022 Annual

Negative relationships in the interactions between consumers and smart objects

Published: May 24, 2022


Luigi Monsurrò, Sapienza University of Rome; Ilaria Querci, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Bliss - Digital Impact Lab, Department of Management; Silvia Grappi, Department of Communication and Economics - University of Modena and Reggio Emilia; Simona Romani, Luiss University; Giacomo Gistri, University of Macerata


Smart Objects (SOs) are increasingly present and significant in consumers’ every-day life. Furthermore, due to their abilities and anthropomorphic features, consumers can interact with them as they do with other humans. This aspect can have positive implications for consumer experience. However, as SOs are not immune to flaws, the negative implications of such interactions should not be underestimated. Despite this, literature is focusing mainly on the positive side of consumers-SOs relationships, leaving negative relationships understudied. This work, therefore, taking a cue from consumers-object relationship literature and literature about interpersonal relationship aims to fill this gap. Through a qualitative analysis of consumers’ narratives about their relationships with a SO, this research unveils six types of negative relationships and six corresponding SO social roles: Dealer, Diminishing Partner, Stalker, Enemy, Annoying Acquaintance, and Master.