Why People Use Chatbots

  • Petter Bae BrandtzaegEmail author
  • Asbjørn Følstad
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10673)


There is a growing interest in chatbots, which are machine agents serving as natural language user interfaces for data and service providers. However, no studies have empirically investigated people’s motivations for using chatbots. In this study, an online questionnaire asked chatbot users (N = 146, aged 16–55 years) from the US to report their reasons for using chatbots. The study identifies key motivational factors driving chatbot use. The most frequently reported motivational factor is “productivity”; chatbots help users to obtain timely and efficient assistance or information. Chatbot users also reported motivations pertaining to entertainment, social and relational factors, and curiosity about what they view as a novel phenomenon. The findings are discussed in terms of the uses and gratifications theory, and they provide insight into why people choose to interact with automated agents online. The findings can help developers facilitate better human–chatbot interaction experiences in the future. Possible design guidelines are suggested, reflecting different chatbot user motivations.


Chatbots Motivations Uses and gratifications 



This study is funded by the research project Human-Chatbot Interaction Design, supported by the Research Council of Norway, IKTPLUSS ( 270940).


  1. 1.
    Dale, R.: The return of the chatbots. Nat. Lang. Eng. 22(5), 811–817 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Følstad, A., Brandtzaeg, P.B.: Chatbots – the new world of HCI. ACM Interactions (2017, in Press)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    USA Today: Microsoft CEO Nadella: “Bots are the new apps” (2016).
  4. 4.
    Xu, A., Liu, Z., Guo, Y., Sinha, V., Akkiraju, R.: A new chatbot for customer service on social media. In: Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2017)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ferrara, E., Varol, O., Davis, C., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: The Rise of Social Bots. arXiv preprint arXiv:1407.5225 (2014)
  6. 6.
    Simonite, T.: Facebook’s Perfect, Impossible Chatbot. MIT Technology Review (2017)
  7. 7.
    Coniam, D.: The linguistic accuracy of chatbots: usability from an ESL perspective. Text Talk 34(5), 545–567 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Malhotra, Y., Galletta, D.F., Kirsch, L.J.: How endogenous motivations influence user intentions: beyond the dichotomy of extrinsic and intrinsic user motivations. J. Manag. Inform. Syst. 25(1), 267–300 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Weizenbaum, J.: ELIZA—a computer program for the study of natural language communication between man and machine. Commun. ACM 9(1), 36–45 (1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Shah, H., Warwick, K., Vallverdú, J., Wu, D.: Can machines talk? Comparison of ELIZA with modern dialogue systems. Comput. Hum. Behav. 58, 278–295 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Vinyals, O., Le, Q.: A Neural Conversational Model. arXiv preprint arXiv:1506.05869 (2015)
  12. 12.
  13. 13.
    James, G.: A Complete Guide to Chatbots (2016).
  14. 14.
    Hill, J., Ford, W.R., Farreras, I.G.: Real conversations with artificial intelligence: a comparison between human-human online conversations and human-chatbot conversations. Comput. Hum. Behav. 49, 245–250 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Corti, K., Gillespie, A.: Co-constructing intersubjectivity with artificial conversational agents: people are more likely to initiate repairs of misunderstandings with agents represented as human. Comput. Hum. Behav. 58, 431–442 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Holtgraves, T.M., Ross, S.J., Weywadt, C.R., Han, T.L.: Perceiving artificial social agents. Comput. Hum. Behav. 23(5), 2163–2174 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    De Angeli, A., Johnson, G.I., Coventry, L.: The unfriendly user: exploring social reactions to chatterbots. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Affective Human Factors Design, London, pp. 467–474 (2001)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rubin, A.M.: Uses and gratifications. In: Nabi, R.L., Oliver, M.B. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Media Processes and Effects, pp. 147–159. Sage, Washington, D.C. (2009)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Stafford, T.F., Stafford, M.R., Schkade, L.L.: Determining uses and gratifications for the internet. Decis. Sci. 35(2), 259–288 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Katz, E., Blumler, J.G., Gurevitch, M.: Utilization of mass communication by the individual. In: Blumler, J.G., Katz, E. (eds.) The Uses of Mass Communications: Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research, pp. 19–32. Sage, Beverly Hills (1974)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Joinson, A.N.: Looking at, looking up or keeping up with people?: Motives and use of Facebook. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1027–1036. ACM Press (2008)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sundar, S.S., Limperos, A.M.: Uses and grats 2.0: new gratifications for new media. J. Broadcast. Electron. 57(4), 504–525 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rogers, E.M.: Diffusion of Innovations. Simon and Schuster, New York (2003)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Brandtzæg, P.B., Heim, J.: Why people use social networking sites. In: Ozok, A.A., Zaphiris, P. (eds.) OCSC 2009. LNCS, vol. 5621, pp. 143–152. Springer, Heidelberg (2009). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-02774-1_16 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Brandtzaeg, P.B., Haugestveit, I.M., Lüders, M., Følstad, A.: How should organizations adapt to youth civic engagement in social media? A lead user approach. Interact. Comput. 28(5), 664–679 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Foley, C.: The art of wasting time: sociability, friendship, community and holidays. Leisure Stud. 36(1), 1–20 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Tsakonas, G., Papatheodorou, C.: Exploring usefulness and usability in the evaluation of open access digital libraries. Inf. Process. Manag. 44(3), 1234–1250 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Thackara, J.: The Design Challenge of Pervasive Computing. CHI (2000).
  29. 29.
    Monk, A.F.: User-centred design: the home use challenge. In: Sloane, A., van Rijn, F. (eds.) Home Informatics and Telematics: Information Technology and Society, pp. 181–190. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    McQuail, D.: Mass Communication Theory: An Introduction, 2nd edn. Sage, London (1987)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SINTEFOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations