Merchandising/Marketing/Retailing: Management

How Formal Should a Chatbot Be? An Examination from a Construal Level Theory Perspective

  • Xiao Huang (Zhejiang Fashion Institute of Technology)
  • Wi-Suk Kwon (Auburn University)


Fashion brands have started implementing chatbots, or AI agents that communicate with users via natural language conversation using a text-based modality, to enhance personalized e-services. This study investigates the effects of a brand’s e-service chatbot linguistic style (formal vs. informal) on consumers’ perceived linguistic appropriateness and chatbot trust, and how brand type (luxury vs. mainstream brand) moderates these effects. An online experiment with a 2 (chatbot linguistic style: informal vs. formal) × 2 (brand type: luxury vs. mainstream) between-subjects design was conducted using a convenience sample of 203 college students. Results showed that an e-service chatbot’s formal linguistic style increased consumers’ perceptions of linguistic appropriateness and trustworthiness of the chatbot, but this effect is stronger for luxury brands than for mainstream brands. 

Keywords: chatbot, linguistic style, brand type, construal level theory

How to Cite:

Huang, X. & Kwon, W., (2024) “How Formal Should a Chatbot Be? An Examination from a Construal Level Theory Perspective”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 80(1). doi:



Published on
22 Jan 2024
Peer Reviewed