Hey Alexa! A Magic Spell of Social Glue?: Sharing a Smart Voice Assistant Speaker and Its Impact on Users’ Perception of Group Harmony


Unlike most other computing devices that are known to isolate their users, Smart Voice Assistant Speaker (SVAS) appears to improve the perception of social cohesion (i.e., Group Harmony) among its co-users. We hypothesize that the social cues emanated from the continued, and habituated, use of SVAS develop the “illusion of intimacy” which, in turn, ripples through the entire group, and help fulfill the need for social integration. The data collected from 218 families support this hypothesis. We argue that just as a puppy dog contributes to a happy family, so does the SVAS contributes to the social dynamics by making the users unconsciously fulfill their psychological needs and by increasing actual conversations among its users. Incidentally, the study compared the relative influence of three factors (the beta weight of “Hedonic Motivation” being the highest, followed by “Compatibility,” and then “Perceived Security”) that, as a whole, explain over 60% of the variance in Satisfaction of post-adoption SVAS use.

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  1. 1.

    Defined as a computational artifact designed to establish social-emotional relationships with its user (Bickmore and Picard 2005)

  2. 2.

    Under this definition, therefore, SVAS does not include the non-stand-alone voice-activated assistant software such as Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant.

  3. 3.

    Chartrand and Lakin name it as verbal mimicry and categorize it along with the chameleon effect under a broader phenomenon called “social contagion” which encompasses emotional contagion, attitudinal contagion, and goal contagion (See Chartrand and Lakin 2013, p. 297). The ripple effect (Barsade 2002), we discuss in the next section, also can be categorized as a social contagion in a broader sense.

  4. 4.

    In consumer psychology literature, products that emphasize the necessary and functional benefits (e.g., telephone, microwaves) are referred to as utilitarian products, whereas the products that emphasize the pleasure-oriented and experiential benefits (e.g., sports cars, designer clothes) are referred to as hedonic products (Chernev 2004; Chitturi et al. 2008; Crowe and Higgins 1997). While most products have both benefits, a product is classified either as hedonic or utilitarian product depending on the relative salience of hedonic or utilitarian attributes. It is argued that in determining post-consumption value, consumers tend to rely more on the product attribute (i.e., utilitarian vs. hedonic) that better matches the goal orientation facilitated by the context of its use (Chernev 2004). Thus, in the context of pursuing a prevention goal (seeking an “ought goal,” that minimizes the negative outcomes), consumers rely more on utilitarian attributes, whereas in the context of pursuing a promotion goal (seeking an “ideal goal,” that maximizes the positive outcomes), consumers rely more on hedonic attributes in evaluating a product (Chernev 2004).

  5. 5.

    Voicebot Voice Shopping US consumer Adoption and Attitude 2018 Report; retrieved from the web on June 5, 2018, from https://voicebot.ai/2018/06/03/u-s-smart-speaker-market-share-apple-debuts-at-4-1-amazon-falls-10-points-and-google-rises/


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Lee, K., Lee, K.Y. & Sheehan, L. Hey Alexa! A Magic Spell of Social Glue?: Sharing a Smart Voice Assistant Speaker and Its Impact on Users’ Perception of Group Harmony. Inf Syst Front 22, 563–583 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-019-09975-1

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  • CASA
  • Group harmony
  • Echo effect
  • Parasocial relationship
  • Ripple effect
  • Habit