In this manuscript we discuss the increasing use of machine agents as potential sources of support for humans. Continued examination of the use of machine agents, particularly chatbots (or “bots”) for support is crucial as more supportive interactions occur with these technologies. Building off extant research on supportive communication, this manuscript reviews research that has implications for bots as support providers. At the culmination of the literature review, several propositions regarding how factors of technological efficacy, problem severity, perceived stigma, and humanness affect the process of support are proposed. By reviewing relevant studies, we integrate research on human-machine and supportive communication to organize, extend, and provide a foundation for the growing body of work on machine agents for support.



Author ORCID Identifier

Austin Beattie: 0000-0003-2667-4321

Andrew C. High: 0000-0002-9397-6875