Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

George Marakas

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Manjul Gupta

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Richard Klein

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Haiying Long

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Sociable Technology, Anthropomorphism, Agency, Social Presence, Human-Computer Interaction, HCI, Human-Robot Interaction, HRI

Date of Defense



With the arrival of personal assistants and other AI-enabled autonomous technologies, social interactions with smart devices have become a part of our daily lives. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to understand how these social interactions emerge, and why users appear to be influenced by them. For this reason, I explore questions on what the antecedents and consequences of this phenomenon, known as anthropomorphism, are as described in the extant literature from fields ranging from information systems to social neuroscience. I critically analyze those empirical studies directly measuring anthropomorphism and those referring to it without a corresponding measurement. Through a grounded theory approach, I identify common themes and use them to develop models for the antecedents and consequences of anthropomorphism. The results suggest anthropomorphism possesses both conscious and non-conscious components with varying implications. While conscious attributions are shown to vary based on individual differences, non-conscious attributions emerge whenever a technology exhibits apparent reasoning such as through non-verbal behavior like peer-to-peer mirroring or verbal paralinguistic and backchanneling cues. Anthropomorphism has been shown to affect users’ self-perceptions, perceptions of the technology, how users interact with the technology, and the users’ performance. Examples include changes in a users’ trust on the technology, conformity effects, bonding, and displays of empathy. I argue these effects emerge from changes in users’ perceived agency, and their self- and social- identity similarly to interactions between humans. Afterwards, I critically examine current theories on anthropomorphism and present propositions about its nature based on the results of the empirical literature. Subsequently, I introduce a two-factor model of anthropomorphism that proposes how an individual anthropomorphizes a technology is dependent on how the technology was initially perceived (top-down and rational or bottom-up and automatic), and whether it exhibits a capacity for agency or experience. I propose that where a technology lays along this spectrum determines how individuals relates to it, creating shared agency effects, or changing the users’ social identity. For this reason, anthropomorphism is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to support future interactions with smart technologies.






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