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

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  48 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...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Portfolio (first published August 1st 2010)
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Christy Stewart
I was hoping that the book would cover how machines can teach us about human relationships...like 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
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
Carly
**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...more
Virginia Lacefield
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!
Michelle
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.
Emily Mccool
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.

WORTH IT!

Quote of the book:
"A few weeks ago, some user came in here and began using this computer to edit...more
corina
Dec 05, 2011 corina added it
Oh, yes, I read this book :)
Julie
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.

Bu...more
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
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...more
Amy
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
Jennifer
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
Izzy
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 wi...more
Colin
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...more
Loy Machedo
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...more
Ariel
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...more
Matt Swaffer
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
Lauren
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...more
Mark Taylor
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...more
Ryan Agrimson
This book by Clifford Nass is a compilation of social science experiments and the implications from those experiments. Currently I'm on Chapter 6 of 11 and so far the book has given incredible insights to how people respond to praise, flattery, and criticism. Nass also delves into the psychology of why people form great teams by using examples of teams in the military as well as office teams.

While reading this book, I really enjoy how Nass proves each implication with supported data from each ex...more
Leigh
I expected this to be a book about human-computer interaction; that it was- and more. A fun book to talk about because it is so entertaining! Illustrated with engaging, detailed, and often witty accounts of many different experiments, the book is paced well and broadly appealing. People who live, learn, work, or play with other people will benefit from the wisdom and practicality of the findings it presents. For academics, this is a beautiful example of collaborative research. Nass gracefully sh...more
Desi
Fascinating premise. The experiments use computers to interact with humans in a controlled fashion - as no two human interactions will ever maintain precise similarities. Though I don't see this book as being exactly what the title claims, it is much more interesting and widely researched than I anticipated. The title really adds little to the book. They (it was written by his assistants) tried to show that though people may not tell the full truth to human researchers, that they lie much less t...more
Ninakix
I knew Cliff Nass was doing some cool stuff in his research lab at Stanford, but I didn't really realize how cool until I read this book. His methods for testing different hypotheses by using computer agents is absolutely fascinating, and has resulted in an entirely new, unique set of experiments. I really enjoyed, in particular, his chapter on Teams and Team Building, because it seemed to get me thinking about new stuff surrounding online communities.
Sarah
The author of this book is a social scientist. He discusses about 30 of his experiments with how people interact, how to persuade, and how we generally tick. The experiments were cool to get into, especially how the author used computers to get the best reactions from his subjects.
Can I remember a what his experiments taught me? Only a few things. This book is very much like Plato and a Platapuss Walk Into a Bar. Without the humor.
Alea Teeters
Great little bits of insight are laid out regularly in this collection of study synopses. Although dry at times, this book provides new ways to think about interacting with technology and surprising knowledge of how we interact with people. We can see just how far we go in treating computers in a social context, whether we mean to or not. Drilling down to our social biases allows us to see a little bit of how we, ourselves, are programmed.
Charles Baker
This is an excellent, insightful, scientific look at human relationships. The author uses computers to study human interactions unmasking many of the anecdotally "proven" methods of dealing with people, such as the criticism sandwich, to be the exactly wrong approaches to take. I need to listen to this again, or perhaps read the book, to really get the principles. It will take much practice for they are second nature in my daily life.
jen8998
Interesting book on how individuals respond to technology. However, it's marred by the fact that the author almost exclusively focuses on his own research. It seems many of these topic would have multiple studies each but they warrant nary a mention here. It may be too much to expect a comprehensive lit review but it would have made for a better book.
Corwin
The writer has an excellent easy-going, humorous voice but after a while I got kind of tired of reading all the details of the experiments and their conclusions — probably just because I was more in the mood for something casual. A worthwhile, intelligent, sometimes surprising glimpse at the underlying simplicity in human interactions.
Aaron Glett
If you want to know how to work with people alone, in groups, or in software design, this book is a must read. Apparently the same etiquette used between person to person, applies to computer to personal interactions just as well. Which means that people and computers MUST work together in harmony for the technology to be well accepted.
Mary Ann
I'm not sure about all the claims he makes. I'm very skeptical about parts and can think of arguments against some of his propositions, but it is very thought-provoking. I had several wow moments and shared a lot of his experiments with family. I'll certainly try some of his suggestions.
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