Anthropomorphism is often used in the design of products and technology, with the aim of enhancing the user experience. However, ‘human’ elements may also be employed for practical reasons, e.g. using speech as an interaction mechanism to minimise visual/manual distraction while driving. A self-report questionnaire survey (attracting 285 respondents from the UK), enriched by over thirteen hours of ethnographic-style observations involving 14 participants, explored drivers’ tendency to anthropomorphise a routine in-vehicle navigation device (employing speech to deliver instructions). While the self-reported behaviour of drivers revealed only limited evidence of anthropomorphism, the observations clearly demonstrated that such behaviour was abundant during everyday use, with plentiful examples of drivers and passengers assigning gender, names and personality to the device. Drivers also attempted to engage the device in conversation, apparently endowing it with independent thought, and blamed it for mistakes. The results raise important considerations for the design and development of future in-vehicle technology (where speech is employed as an interaction mechanism), and speech-based systems more widely.
Large, D. R., & Burnett, G. E. (2018). Life on the road: exposing drivers’ tendency to anthropomorphise in-vehicle navigation systems. In S. Bagnara, R. Tartaglia, S. Albolino, T. Alexander, & Y. Fujita (Eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018). Volume VI. Transport Ergonomics and Human Factors (TEHF), Aerospace Human Factors and Ergonomics (3-12). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96074-6_1