This article examines communicative anthropomorphization, that is, assigning of humanlike features, of socialbots in communication between humans and bots. Situated in the field of human-machine communication, the article asks how socialbots are devised as anthropomorphized communication companions and explores the ways in which human users anthropomorphize bots through communication. Through an analysis of two datasets of bots interacting with humans on social media, we find that bots are communicatively anthropomorphized by directly addressing them, assigning agency to them, drawing parallels between humans and bots, and assigning emotions and opinions to bots. We suggest that socialbots inherently have anthropomorphized characteristics and affordances, but their anthropomorphization is completed and actualized by humans through communication. We conceptualize this process as communicative anthropomorphization.
Author ORCID Identifier
Salla-Maaria Laaksonen: 0000-0003-3532-2387
Kaisa Laitinen: 0000-0001-8357-3020
Minna Koivula: 0000-0002-7718-0199
Tanja Sihvonen: 0000-0003-3220-2814
Laaksonen, S., Laitinen, K., Koivula, M., Sihvonen, T. (2023). Triggered by socialbots: communicative anthropomorphization of bots in online conversations. Human-Machine Communication, 6, 135-153. https://doi.org/10.30658/hmc.6.8