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The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What We Can Learn about Ourselves from Our Machines
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The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What We Can Learn about Ourselves from Our Machines

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  312 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Counterintuitive insights about building successful relationships- based on research into human-computer interaction.
Books like "Predictably Irrational" and "Sway" have revolutionized how we view human behavior. Now, Stanford professor Clifford Nass has discovered a set of rules for effective human relationships, drawn from an unlikely source: his study of our interactio
ebook, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Portfolio (first published August 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 889)
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Christy Stewart
I was hoping that the book would cover how machines can teach us about human the title said. Instead it was just another book that vaguely covers personality types and a bunch of common sense situations that are IRL...where do the machines come in?
Bojan Tunguz
Sep 13, 2012 Bojan Tunguz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s been said so many times that it’s by now become a staid cliché: humans are social animals. We are adapted to social interaction, and to a large extend depend on our ability to interact and cooperate with others. Considering how important our social interactions are for our survival, it is surprising how little room it’s allocated in the regular school curriculum to learning more about what science has to teach us on this topic. Social Psychology, the branch of Psychology that deals with thi ...more
Jan 19, 2014 Carly rated it liked it
**edited 01/18/14

If you've ever wanted to kill an automated service agent, raise your hand...

This book provides an entertaining peek at the intersection of technology, sociology, and psychology. It discusses various experiments which indicate how people anthropomorphize inanimate technology and how this tendency can be used to reduce confounding variables and better understand human behaviour. It wasn't quite what I had expected: given the title and blurb, I had thought that the book would focus
Dec 30, 2015 August rated it really liked it
Okay. This took way longer than it needed to, but that's also why it loses a star: it was a bit of a slog. Thirty-plus scientific studies can only be so boiled down - you're still going through the details of how the study worked in order to understand its significance.

That being said, this was an incredibly relevant book to my work and social lives. I can apply it on a meta level, and I can apply it as I negotiate with coworkers and managers, and I can apply it day to day as I deal with the oth
Shivon Zilis
Jul 05, 2016 Shivon Zilis rated it it was amazing
Learning EQ from machines... who'd have thunk it? A few fantastic takeaways that may be obvious to folks who have read business and sales books (I sadly haven't) so was well worth it for me. Most helpful, perhaps, was how to relate most effectively to a sad friend and make sure gender dynamics are set up in a way that leaves everyone feeling set up for success. The found the fact that American vs. Japanese reciprocity completely different fascinating (individual vs. collectivist). A few sad trut ...more
Virginia Lacefield
Jun 12, 2011 Virginia Lacefield rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-economics
At the risk of sounding likable, but less competent, this book was great! The author's writing style is clear, easy-to-read, and engaging. The research studies and anecdotes he shares are interesting and often funny and the bullet points at the end of each chapter are tidy summations, highlighting the main points of each section in a way that makes them easy to remember and apply. Highly recommend!
Oct 27, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
I loved the experiment on page 187. "This computer has been configured to run at an extremely high speed. But 90 percent of computer users don't use applications that require these speeds. So this computer rarely gets used to it's full potential. What has been your biggest disappointment in life?"

Also, the valence and arousal graph on page 119 was pretty interesting.
Jun 01, 2016 Aleksandar rated it it was amazing
This book is an interesting, informative journey through an unusual medium - how we interact with machines as if, in some respects, they were other social animals. At first it would seem that such an exploration would have a difficulty staying clear of the all-pervasive "anthropomorphizing machines" problem which seems to dominate the intersect between psychology and computer science; instead, this book takes a better, broader , social science approach and thanks to the author's rich experience ...more
Emily Mccool
Apr 28, 2014 Emily Mccool rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! Aside from giving me into everything I've done wrong in my relationships, the guy is hilarious. How to win friends and influence people: eat your heart out! The cuteness of having computer AI offer helpful advice vs humourous advice and offer 'open self-disclosure' to win our trust made for a very real and insightful modifications on how I can better relate to people.


Quote of the book:
"A few weeks ago, some user came in here and began using this computer to edit
Dec 05, 2011 corina added it
Oh, yes, I read this book :)
Oct 04, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: white
Subtitle: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships.

Well, the first thing this book teaches us, is that we cannot, as a species, tell the difference between a computer and a human being. For example, when a computer we are working on is the same one we use to fill out a survey on how we like our computer, we give more favorable answers than if we fill out that same survey on a second computer. Apparently, humans are afraid to hurt the feelings of our computers by telling them to their "fa
The rules of social behavior are complex. How can you get someone to like you? What's the best way to provide criticism? How can you present your ideas persuasively? Clifford Nass has tackled all these questions using an odd lab partner: the computer. The idea was simple: human collaborators can be inconsistent, leading to inconsistent lab results. A computer, on the other hand, can replicate the exact same experiment as many times as you need it to, without complaining and without deviation.

Shirley Freeman
Clifford Nass and his entourage of graduate students at Stanford have done a lot of research on human behavior by setting up experiments where humans interact with computers. It turns out that people quite easily treat a computer the same way they treat other humans. Think of your GPS or Siri. Nass's research has proved some conventional wisdom about human behavior to be accurate and some not so much. Do opposites, in fact, attract? When reviewing an employee's performance, should you start with ...more
Andrew Tatge
Dec 03, 2012 Andrew Tatge rated it liked it
Easy to read and fairly interesting for someone who has never taken a psychology course.

The book is basically a collection of studies that use computers as consistent and reliable placeholders for human participants (whereas an actor might ask a question or wince differently in their delivery over 50 performances with different subjects). If you have studied psychology, I suspect many of the conclusions drawn and summaries of other's work may be a retread of some basic principles.

For better or
Aug 16, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
While Nass presents some interesting assertions on human social behavior, he does (as previous reviews have said) rely nearly exclusively on his own research for the entire book. For his particular assertions he relies entirely on his own research. Also, in some of the studies I wonder about the validity of his research... For instance, in the personality chapter he frequently has people self-evaluate their own personality. For me, I'd find that particular evaluation difficult since my personali ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. I like the Professor Nass writes clearly and cleanly for stupid folk like me, and that he offers recaps at the end of each chapter with takeaway points (probably something he picked up from doing his human-computer interface research). I am also very impressed that he basically did all the experiments that were mentioned in this book. Usually if you read a book by - say - Jonah Lehrer or Malcolm Gladwell they obviously are not researchers and c ...more
Dec 21, 2011 Izzy added it
Recommended to Izzy by: Dad
I think the cover quote says it best:

"If Dale Carnegie had been a Google engineer, this is how he would have written How to Win Friends and Influence People. Cliff Nass shows us how much we can learn about people by understanding how people interact with computers."
-Chip Heath, coauthor of Switch and Made to Stick

Nass, after discovering that people respond to computers in social ways, uses computers as confederates to assist in sociological experiments to demonstrate how human beings interact w
Feb 24, 2013 Colin rated it it was ok
Shelves: extfriendly
Found in the Oxfam shop and bought on impulse because it seemed like a good idea for a book.
It's quite a fun read, full of nuggets of experimental data from the authors' work studying interpersonal psychology with the use of computers. A lot of their assumptions seem pretty questionable. For example, in some of the experiments, it is assumed that the use of a computer instead of a human interlocutor removes such biasing influences as the desire not to hurt the other person's feelings or the des
Loy Machedo
Jul 10, 2013 Loy Machedo rated it it was ok
Loy Machedo’s Book Review - The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What We Can Learn About Ourselves from Our Machines by Clifford Nass and Corina Yen

The trend now a days for most books at least is no longer the grandiose claims to Explain How Quantum Physics will help you do the Impossible, or Why you should use the Power of the Universe to help you achieve Mystery and Magic or What happens when you get in touch with your Super Consciousness to reach your Destiny. Albeit such Silly Sounding words sand
Sep 28, 2010 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People are social beings. It can be argued that the concept of self can only be defined in the context of our own interest in what other people are thinking and feeling. Nass realizes that these social behaviors may be so ingrained that they appear even when interacting with computers, and conducts his psychology experiments using machines as easily controllable partners.

The results are interesting. Many actual studies are described and explained, which I like better than a more prose-heavy argu
Nelson Zagalo
Oct 21, 2015 Nelson Zagalo rated it really liked it
Interesting book on interaction design from the perspective of social interaction. Nass has written a book where he picks all his experiments done to test interaction with computers to extract knowledge for human interaction, a really new approach. I must confess it feels a bit awkward, however the reasoning is sound, and helps when it comes to design methods for social data extraction.
Apart all this, Nass adds a set of new knowledge to the domain of interaction design, making this book highly i
Feb 28, 2015 May-Ling rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. like cliff himself, this book is all over the place and thinks faster than most people. it would benefit from more focus. that said, you get a pretty impressive review of about 30 social science research studies. i especially admire how cliff went out of his way to acknowledge graduate students and call out where those men and women are now. he certainly worked with many students now acting as professors themselves! this book takes social science studies and replaces people with compu ...more
Feb 04, 2015 Kelsey rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kelsey by: Rhonda (JOMC 715)
Nass' findings about the way humans interact with technology and one another aren't earth-shattering, and his subsequent advice on how to get people to like you or listen to you seems like so much common sense. Still, it's a quick and interesting read, and Nass uses crystal clear language to explain complex scientific topics. The experiment designs are especially intriguing (and convincing). I haven't taken any psychology since high school, so this book served as a good refresher on fundamental ...more
Nov 27, 2014 Robyn rated it it was ok
By all accounts I should have loved this book... it was ok, but it just didn't do it for me. I think this book promised more than it could deliver. And the title is wholly misleading, it should really be "what we can learn about ourselves from how we interact with our machines" which is far less exciting.
Scott Wright
Jan 11, 2016 Scott Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, 2016
An interesting look at several of this professor's interpretations of research or research done by him and colleagues. I had just finished a Research Methods class at university so this tied in to it in an interesting way. A good book for managers and leaders to understand a little more about why people are like they are and how you can use that to your advantage
Matt Swaffer
Feb 06, 2011 Matt Swaffer rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The Man Who Lied to His Laptop is a fascinating look into the world of human computer interaction. Clifford Nass has done extensive research into the concept of computers as social actors. For several decades he has explored the idea that people interact with computers in much the same way as they interact with other humans. This goes far beyond just the simple anthropomorphization that we witness when a frustrated user says his computer is stupid or when a bank customer yells at an ATM for not ...more
Sep 03, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does it say about my library’s cataloging system that they had this shelved with books about how technology affects and interacts with humans when it is instead about how technology can be used in studies to understand human emotions?

Admittedly, this “mis-shelving” threw me at first because I expected x and was reading y. Once I adjusted, I enjoyed Dr. Nass’s overview of how using technology can help researchers control external variables and pin down specific questions about human behavio
Mark Taylor
Sep 27, 2013 Mark Taylor rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book compiled from compelling, and often funny, research. The description is somewhat misleading. Professor Nass does not study how humans interact with computers. He uses the fact that we anthropomorphize computers to study how humans interact with each other. The use of computers as his confederates in his experiments allows him to control variables that would arise were he to use human confederates.

His experiments lead to practical recommendations for imparting praise or criticis
Apr 17, 2015 Keith rated it really liked it
I like it however only at 30 minutes burst. Funny and a lot of deep thinking.
Edgar Perez
Feb 18, 2016 Edgar Perez rated it it was amazing
understanding machines can help understand human communication
and vice versa
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