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We're too courteous to madding computers

发布时间:2019-03-07 08:20:01来源:未知点击:

By Jon Sutton DO YOU hate your computer? Part of the reason may be that it does not respond to your courtesy, say psychologists in California who have found that we are often unnecessarily polite to computers. People are more likely to criticise another person to a third party than directly, so Clifford Nass and his colleagues at Stanford University in Palo Alto wondered if people would afford computers the same consideration. They asked volunteers to take a computer-based tutorial followed by a brief multiple-choice test on the same machine. Afterwards, the participants were questioned about the performance of their computer, either by the same machine, an identical one or on paper. As the researchers report in the current issue of the Journal Of Applied Social Psychology (vol 29, p 1093), evaluations made on the same computer were by far the most positive. “Our participants automatically and unconsciously made an attempt to ingratiate themselves to a computer,” Nass says. He concludes that computers have a “social presence” that can influence users. That fact, he says, is often ignored by research psychologists, who increasingly use computers to ask subjects about sensitive areas such as sexual behaviour (New Scientist, 16 May 1998, p 18). Bengt Arnetz, an expert on technological stress at Uppsala University in Sweden, believes that people get angry at their computers because most programs are not designed to return politeness. “It’s a social interaction,” Arnetz says,