News

People affected by COVID-19 are being nicer to machines

March 22, 2021

People are not very nice to machines. The disdain goes beyond the slot machine that emptied your wallet, a dispenser that failed to deliver a Coke or a navigation system that took you on an unwanted detour.

Yet USC researchers report that people affected by COVID-19 are showing more goodwill — to humans and to human-like autonomous machines.

“The new discovery here is that when people are distracted by something distressing, they treat machines socially like they would treat other people. We found greater faith in technology due to the pandemic and a closing of the gap between humans and machines,” said Jonathan Gratch, senior author of the study and director for virtual humans research at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

Continue reading about new research from ICT in USC News.