Beyond humans: consumer reluctance to adopt zoonotic artificial intelligence

Sara‐Maude Poirier, Bo Huang, Anshu Suri, Sylvain Senecal

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


In addition to humanoid‐robotic designs, an increasing number of artificial intelligence (AI)‐powered services are being represented by animals, referred to as zoonotic design. Yet, little is known about the consequential effects of such zoonotic AI on consumer adoption of these services. Drawing on the concepts of prototypicality, Cognitive Load Theory, and the “Match‐up” Hypothesis, the current research uncovers how the use of zoonotic designs, as opposed to robotic ones, may negatively influence consumers’ adoption of AI over a human provider. The results of seven studies suggest that consumers are less likely to choose an AI over a human provider for performing tasks when the AI has a zoonotic embodiment rather than a robotic embodiment. This negative effect is mediated by the increased cognitive difficulty associated with linking the AI prototype to the task. However, such a negative effect decreases when the characteristics of the animal are congruent with the task and is even reversed when the congruent task is of a hedonic nature. These findings advance the understanding of consumer–AI interactions in the context of zoonotic embodiment and provide valuable managerial insights into when and how firms should use zoonotic design for AI‐powered services.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023


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