Speech interface reformulations and voice assistant personification preferences of children and parents

Ye Yuan, Stryker Thompson, Kathleen Watson, Alice Chase, Ashwin Senthilkumar, A. J. Bernheim Brush, Lana Yarosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The pervasive availability of voice assistants may support children in finding answers to informational queries by removing the literacy requirements of text search (e.g., typing, spelling). However, most such systems are not designed for the specific needs and preferences of children and may struggle with understanding the intent of their questions. In our investigation, we observed 87 children and 27 adults interacting with three Wizard-of-Oz speech interfaces to arrive at answers to questions that required reformulation. We found that many children and some adults required help to reach an effective question reformulation. We report the common types of reformulations (both effective and ineffective ones) and the role of age in these. We also compared three versions of speech interfaces with different approaches to referring to itself (personification) and to the participant (naming personalization). We found that generally children preferred personified interfaces, but naming personalization was only preferred by younger children. We provide implications for design of speech systems for families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Children
  • Family
  • Information seeking
  • Personalization
  • Personification
  • Search
  • Speech interfaces
  • Voice assistants


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