Ignorance is Bliss? The Effect of Explanations on Perceptions of Voice Assistants

William Seymour*, Jose Such

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


Voice assistants offer a convenient and hands-free way of accessing computing in the home, but a key problem with speech as an interaction modality is how to scaffold accurate mental models of voice assistants, a task complicated by privacy and security concerns. We present the results of a survey of voice assistant users (n=1314) measuring trust, security, and privacy perceptions of voice assistants with varying levels of online functionality explained in different ways. We then asked participants to re-explain how these voice assistants worked, showing that while privacy explanations relieved privacy concerns, trust concerns were exacerbated by trust explanations. Participants' trust, privacy, and security perceptions also distinguished between first party online functionality from the voice assistant vendor and third party online functionality from other developers, and trust in vendors appeared to operate independently from device explanations. Our findings point to the use of analogies to guide users, targeting trust and privacy concerns, key improvements required from manufacturers, and implications for competition in the sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction


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