Bad News? Send an AI. Good News? Send a Human

Aaron M. Garvey, Tae Woo Kim, Adam Duhachek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The present research demonstrates how consumer responses to negative and positive offers are influenced by whether the administering marketing agent is an artificial intelligence (AI) or a human. In the case of a product or service offer that is worse than expected, consumers respond better when dealing with an AI agent in the form of increased purchase likelihood and satisfaction. In contrast, for an offer that is better than expected, consumers respond more positively to a human agent. The authors demonstrate that AI agents, compared with human agents, are perceived to have weaker intentions when administering offers, which accounts for this effect. That is, consumers infer that AI agents lack selfish intentions in the case of an offer that favors the agent and lack benevolent intentions in the case of an offer that favors the customer, thereby dampening the extremity of consumer responses. Moreover, the authors demonstrate a moderating effect, such that marketers may anthropomorphize AI agents to strengthen perceived intentions, providing an avenue to receive due credit from consumers when the agent provides a better offer and mitigate blame when it provides a worse offer. Potential ethical concerns with the use of AI to bypass consumer resistance to negative offers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-25
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Marketing Association 2022.


  • algorithm
  • anthropomorphism
  • artificial intelligence
  • expectations
  • intentions
  • pricing
  • robots
  • satisfaction
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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