Papers Under Review

“Hello! How May I Helo You?”:
How (Corrected) Errors Humanize a Communicator
Under Review at the Journal of Marketing

Shirley Bluvstein Netter, Xuan Zhao, Alixandra Barasch, Juliana Schroeder


Today more than ever before, online text-based interactions (e.g., text messages, emails, social media) have become a primary means of communication. Because written communication lacks human nonverbal cues such as appearance, voice, and identity, consumers may struggle to distinguish whether they are interacting online with a human or a chatbot. The current research investigates how
typographical errors (“typos”), a common yet overlooked feature in text communication, can humanize a communicator. Across five experiments (N = 2,515) that used ambiguous conversational
counterparts (i.e., customer service agents that might be bots), agents (either chatbots or real humans) who made and subsequently corrected a typo were perceived to be more humanlike than ones who made no typo or did not correct the typo. Participants consequently perceived those agents as warmer and more capable of understanding and helping their issues, were more likely to endorse a reward for the agent, and even perceived the company they represented more favorably. These findings provide
novel insights into how conversational features may influence customers’ perception of online agents and the brands that use them. The authors discuss theoretical implications for anthropomorphism and social perception and practical implications for companies wishing to humanize their customer service agents.

When You Charge Less than a Jackson Greens Best Be Your Nudging Action:
Framing Choice Alternatives in the New Age of Voluntary Payments Economy
Under Review at the Journal of Marketing Research

Shirley Bluvstein Netter and Priya Raghubir

Modern and gig economy businesses collect voluntary contributions (i.e., tips) from consumers via screen-based payment systems (i.e., $1, $2, $3; 10%, 15%, 20%). The use of these systems has been criticized by the popular media for forcing consumers to leave large tips in contexts where they previously would have left small tips or where tips were not required. The authors employ a multi-method approach, including an analysis of secondary data (N = 51,825), a field experiment (N = 1,810), and laboratory experiments (N = 2,321) to show that an absolute dollar frame (vs. percentages) leads to higher tip payments especially for low bill amounts. These effects are attenuated when (1) absolute options are presented in cents (e.g., $0.50), leading consumers to infer that small tip amounts are acceptable and, (2) absolute options start at high levels. Countering conventional wisdom, the authors further show that open-ended formats can lead to higher tip payments compared to closed-ended response formats in specific conditions. Theoretically, these results add to the behavioral pricing, prosocial behavior, and labor economics literatures. Managerially, the results are relevant for decision makers in the multi-billion-dollar digital service industry.