Ruchen Wen and Brandon Barton and Sebastian Faure and Tom Williams


ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction

Publication Year

For enhanced performance and privacy, companies deploying voice-activated technologies such as virtual assistants and robots are increasingly tending toward designs in which technologies only begin attending to speech once a specified wakeword is heard. Due to concerns that interactions with such technologies could lead users, especially children, to develop impolite habits, some companies have begun to develop use modes in which interactants are required to use ostensibly polite wakewords such as " Please''. In this paper, we argue that these ``please-centering'' wakewords are likely to backfire and actually discourage polite interactions due to the particular types of lexical and syntactic priming induced by those wakewords. We then present the results of a human-subject experiment (n=90) that validates those claims.