Virtual agent ignorance and its effects on perceived service quality

  • Magnus Söderlund Stockholm School of Economics
Keywords: Face masks, service encounters, the corona pandemic


Virtual agents (VAs) used for service encounters online are becoming increasingly common. The present study examines one aspect of conversations between VAs and humans, namely what happens when a VA openly discloses its knowledge gaps (by saying “I do not know”) versus when it makes attempt to conceal them (by never saying “I do not know”) in a setting in which it cannot answer user questions. A between-subjects experiment with a manipulated VA, and with perceived service quality as the main dependent variable, shows that never saying “I do not know” boosts perceived service quality.

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