What Is Creepiness, and What Makes ChatGPT Creepy?





creepiness, uncanny valley, AI, ChatGPT, chatbot


ChatGPT and other AI chatbots and models are often experienced as creepy by their users. This Perspective attempts to explain why. I start by reviewing studies into the psychology of creepiness, including a recent integrative account of the phenomenon. This account proposes that the experience of being “creeped out” arises from threatening difficulties in understanding other minds. Accordingly, I examine how ChatGPT and other AIs can give their users a sense that they are interacting with a thinking and feeling entity that may be malicious, referencing many well-documented cases in the process. These cases share a psychoanalytic theme in that it is only through creative and persistent prompting that the AI will come to acknowledge and share what it really thinks and feels. I end by discussing how various popular conceptions and representations of AIs may contribute to their perceived creepiness.


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How to Cite

Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, J. (2024). What Is Creepiness, and What Makes ChatGPT Creepy?. Leviathan: Interdisciplinary Journal in English, (10), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.7146/lev102024144284