The Gendered Nature of Chatbots: Anthropomorphism and Authenticity

The Gendered Nature of Chatbots: Anthropomorphism and Authenticity

Alice Ashcroft, Angela Ashcroft
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 43
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6234-8.ch003
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The majority of chatbots are built, by default, as women. In doing so, dangerous stereotypes and behaviors are perpetuated by those responsible for designing the chatbots, and ultimately the users. It is therefore crucial that gender identity and expression are well understood by all those involved in designing the chatbots. This chapter explores this alongside a literature survey regarding feminist methodologies, anthropomorphism, and authenticity to put forward three recommendations. That those responsible for building chatbots should keep up to date with research, look to widen the diversity of their own team, and to integrate ethics in their design processes. Only in doing so will chatbots that are fit for purpose be built.
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Feminist Chatbots

Before the impact of gender regarding chatbots (from the beginning through to their use) can be understood, there must first be an acknowledgement of the feminist methodologies and theories which already exist. In doing so, chatbot designers and creators can make full use of existing understandings that allow for equality. Furthermore, there should be an acknowledgement of Intersectionality, not as simply the overlapping of characteristics, but as a product of Black feminist theory (De Hertogh et al., 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-brand Congruence: The relationship between a brand’s personality and how the consumer perceives themself, and the extent to which these two are in harmony.

Gender: The identity of a person expressed however they choose to, examples of this include but are not limited to; ‘man,’ ‘woman,’ ‘trans,’ ‘non-binary.’

Authenticity: How consumers perceive that an organisation or chatbot is faithful to itself and to its consumers.

Design: The process of decision making leading to the final outcome of what has to be built. With chatbots this pertains to how they will be built as well as the how the conversations will take place through intents and responses.

Sex: The biological makeup of an organism pertaining to chromosomes, genitalia (internal and external), and hormones (production and reception).

Anthropomorphism: Attributing human characteristics to a non-human. Users may ascribe human characteristics to a chatbot.

Development: The process of building software, normally through programming.

Agency: A person’s ability to make decisions that affect the context and situation they are in.

Diversity: The process of inclusion of a variety of people regardless of race, gender, socio-economic background, and any other characteristic.

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