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EMAC 2020 Regional Conference

Facing Alexa, the powerful lower their guard: anthropomorphization of smart personal assistants decreases privacy concerns for people with high sense of power

Published: September 16, 2020


Ertugrul Uysal, University of Neuchâtel; Valéry Bezençon, University of Neuchâtel; Sascha Alavi, University of Bochum


Smart Personal Assistants; Anthropomorphization; Sense of Power


With increasing popularity, Smart Personal Assistants (SPA) are becoming prominent characters in our daily lives. Their ubiquity raises concern for data privacy as SPAs may be listening to our most intimate conversations at home. Due to their salient human-like features we are inclined to anthropomorphize them. We investigated the influence of anthropomorphization of SPAs on consumer’s privacy concerns and the moderating role of sense of power in this relationship. People with high (low) power exhibited lower (higher) levels of privacy concerns when the perceived anthropomorphization was higher. We suggest that high power increases the perceived control and this illusion of control decreases privacy concerns. We extend this result by showing that lower privacy concerns lead to a greater frequency of use. Finally, we discuss the importance of understanding power in relation to increasingly human-like technologies and ramifications for consumer protection.