Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


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Yan, C.; Johnson, K.; Jones, V.K. The Impact of Interaction Time and Verbal Engagement with Personal Voice Assistants on Alleviating Loneliness among Older Adults: An Exploratory Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21, 100. ijerph21010100


Open access.


Background: Loneliness in older adults is a critical issue that negatively affects their well-being. The potential of personal voice assistant (PVA) devices like Amazon’s Alexa Echo in reducing loneliness is an emerging area of interest, but it remains under-researched. Objective: this study aims to investigate the effect of interaction time and verbal engagement with PVA devices on reducing loneliness among older adults living alone. Method: In this experiment, individuals aged 75 and older (n = 15), living alone, were provided with Amazon Alexa Echo devices. They were instructed to interact with the device at least five times a day for a duration of four weeks. The study measured participants’ loneliness levels using the UCLA loneliness scale both before and after the study. Additionally, the interaction time and verbal engagement with the device were measured by the total time of use and the total number of intentional commands spoken to Alexa during the four-week period. Results: The findings revealed that the total time spent interacting with Alexa was a significant predictor of loneliness reduction. A mediation analysis indicated an indirect effect, showing that the number of intentional commands spoken to Alexa contributed to loneliness reduction indirectly by increasing the total time spent with the device (verbal engagement →interaction time→loneliness reduction). Conclusions: This study suggests that the key to reducing loneliness among older adults through PVA devices is not just initiating verbal interaction, but the overall time devoted to these interactions. While speaking to Alexa is a starting point, it is the duration of engagement that primarily drives loneliness alleviation.