A Social Science Theory is a Practical Thing: Social Responses to Communication Technology and Microsoft's Bob

Clifford Nass, Byron Reeves, Stanford Communication Dept.
nass@leland.stanford.edu, reeves@leland.stanford.edu

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University April 14, 1995


For the past five years, we have been collaborating on a new paradigm in human-computer interaction called "Social Responses to Communication Technology" or "SRCT." Essentially, SRCT is a theory and methods that argues that human's interactions with computers and other technologies is fundamentally social and natural. Via a series of experiments, we have demonstrated that one can directly apply theories and methods taken from the social sciences to inform how people will respond to computers. The theory, results, and methods of this research program were used in the development of Microsoft's Bob. In the first part of our talk, we will discuss SRCT. In the second part of our talk, we will demonstrate how SRCT was used to inform the design of Bob.


Professor Clifford Nass is an associate professor of Communication at Stanford University, with appointments in Science, Technology, and Society, Sociology, and Symbolic Systems. He received his B.A. cum laude In Mathematics and his Ph.D. in Sociology, both from Princeton University. He has worked as a computer scientist for the IBM Research Center in Yorktown Heights and Intel Corp. He has been a principal investigator on grants sponsored by US West Advanced Technologies, National Science Foundation, the Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering, the Center for the Study of Language and Information, and Stanford University. He has consulted for such organizations as American Electronics Association, Amoco, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Northern Telecomm, and the Smithsonian Institute. He has published over twenty journal articles and book chapters concerning technology and statistical methodology.

Professor Byron Reeves is the Paul C. Edwards Professor of Communication, and Director of the Institute for Communication Research at Stanford University. He is a nationally recognized expert on the psychological processing of media in the areas of attention, emotions, learning, and physiological responses. He has been a consultant to Capital Cities-ABC, The Disney Channel, The Advanced Television Test Center, The Federal Communication Commission, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, IBM, US West, Northern Telecomm, and Congress. He has published extensively in communication, psychology, and neuroscience. His academic background is in graphic design and music (B.F.A., Southern Methodist University) and communication (Ph.D., Michigan State University).


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