Design for Tension

Chat bots can be useful for interacting with users. The chat bot our group designed was to have a discussion with users regarding gun control. The bot was designed for any user group that has an opinion on gun control. The final bot begins with some standard dialogue, asking how the user is and if its okay to discuss gun control with them. From here, the user defines their stance on the subject. The bot then presents the user with a few scenarios, with an option for each stance. The bot will ask the user if they would like to continue the discussion, where if no is stated the bot ends. If the user ever selects the opposite stance, the bot ends stating it was fun to discuss with the user. This continues for all the situations and then states it is good to consider other viewpoints.

The goal of this bot is to discuss gun control with users that are willing. It presents the situations in a way that the user can select whichever option they agree with. The situations are designed to challenge the user’s beliefs by being difficult to choose. It was designed to feel more interactive than just chatting with a bot by requiring choices and asking for input at various times to simulate a more normal conversation.

I spent a majority of my time working on the bot itself, especially for arguing with users that were in support of gun control. This mostly involved working the order which the content was presented and whether it was a question with a text response, question with a choice, or statement. I also worked on whether a question or message appears based on what the user selects.

User interaction played a big role in steering our design. Initially it was a simple bot that presents information from an opposing view and asks if this information changes your view. Next, it evolved into a more interactive bot with choices presented. It continued to evolve based on feedback until it ended up in its final state.

This video shows the capability of the bot during user testing. The content of the text changed and more messages were added for the final bot, as described earlier.

The chat bot was only a bit persuasive. Reflecting on this, an opinion on a controversial topic such as gun control is usually a strong one. Through testing, it became apparent that the information needed to be more persuasive would require a lot of reading from the user. A user only wants to read so much, especially when chatting with a bot. Finding the right balance is a difficult thing to do.