The Importance of a Proper Introduction: A master thesis within the field of artificial intelligence on user expectations and evaluations of chatbot introductions.
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Technological advances have made it possible for chatbots to be used in a variety of settings, like customer service. Despite this rise in use, users remain skeptical towards chatbots. One way to reduce this skepticism is to properly introduce the chatbot. A chatbot introduction is used to familiarize both the chatbot and its functionality and features towards the user. It often does so, using a header (the bar at the top of the chat), several first messages, and a way for the user to respond to this. This study focuses on the impact this introduction has on the expectations of chatbot users and the evaluation of the chatbot after users communicated with it. First, a content analysis has been performed on 48 Dutch customer service chatbots to find what features are present in their introduction. The content analysis showed a lot of variety in the chatbots' anthropomorphism (the presence of human traits), ranging from human to nonhuman. The most common introduction features in the header were a picture, subtext below the main title, and a button. The first messages on average contained twoa messages with a small picture of a human. Also, a question and an introduction were present in most chatbots. To respond to these questions, the average Dutch customer service chatbot used text, without a limit. Then a participant study with a human and a nonhuman chatbot was conducted to show how the amount of anthropomorphism in the introduction influences users' expectations and evaluation. The participants first saw a screenshot of either a human or a nonhuman chatbot introduction. Then they had to answer questions regarding the competence, perceived ease of use, and warmth of the introduction. After answering these questions, the participants had to use the same type of chatbot to order a bouquet of flowers for a friend. Subsequently, questions regarding the competence, perceived ease of use, and warmth of the chatbot had to be answered. The users were also asked about their intention to use the chatbot again in the future. The user study showed that anthropomorphism significantly influences the expectation and evaluation of chatbots when it comes to the competence of the chatbot and its perceived ease of use. Meaning that the chatbot with a lower amount of anthropomorphism was expected and evaluated as more competent and perceived as easier to use when compared to the chatbot with higher anthropomorphism.