Do You Mind if I Ask You a Personal Question? How AI Service Agents Alter Consumer Self-Disclosure

Tae Woo Kim, Li Jiang, Adam Duhachek, Hyejin Lee, Aaron Garvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown rapidly in the service industry and AI’s emotional capabilities have become an important feature for interacting with customers. The current research examines personal disclosures that occur during consumer interactions with AI and humans in service settings. We found that consumers’ lay beliefs about AI (i.e., a perceived lack of social judgment capability) lead to enhanced disclosure of sensitive personal information to AI (vs. humans). We identify boundaries for this effect such that consumers prefer disclosure to humans over AI in (i) contexts where social support (rather than social judgment) is expected and (ii) contexts where sensitive information will be curated by the agent for social dissemination. In addition, we reveal underlying psychological processes such that the motivation to avoid negative social judgment favors disclosing to AI whereas seeking emotional support favors disclosing to humans. Moreover, we reveal that adding humanlike factors to AI can increase consumer fear of social judgment (reducing disclosure in contexts of social risk) while simultaneously increasing perceived AI capacity for empathy (increasing disclosure in contexts of social support). Taken together, these findings provide theoretical and practical insights into tradeoffs between utilizing AI versus human agents in service contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-666
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Service Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The experiments in the current research were supported by research funds made available to the authors from the University of Technology Sydney, the George Washington University, and the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Sydney.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • anthropomorphism
  • artificial intelligence
  • disclosure
  • emotion
  • privacy
  • robots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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