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Advancements in wearable technology have allowed for social information to be inserted directly (albeit conspicuously) into face-to-face interactions. One example is Google Glass, worn similar to a pair of eyeglasses but with a digital display which can provide the wearer an augmented reality of extra-dyadic cues – such as social information (culled from social media programs) – about one’s conversation partners. Such interactions might violate expectancies of “normal” face-to-face interactions, in which both partners are assumed to have similar levels of social information about the other (as well as similar capabilities to retrieve and record this information). The current study simulated a fictitious “Looking Glass” program that (a) auto-detected (via facial recognition) one’s partner and (b) displayed that person’s last 12 social media posts on Glass. In a randomized case/control experiment, non-wearers were more likely to perceive Glass-wearers as physically attractive and socio-emotionally close, while feeling lower self-esteem and having higher mental and physical demand with the conversation. Open-ended data suggested Glass wearers to be less attentive to the conversation, and Glass-present conversations were less on-topic. These data hold implications for future application of and research into what we refer to as cyborgic face-to-face interactions: non-mediated yet technologically augmented social interactions.
Citation: Bowman, N. D., Banks, J. D., & Westerman, D. K. (2015, May). Through the Looking Glass: The impact of Google Glass on perceptions of face-to-face interaction. Paper to be presented at the International Communication Association, Puerto Rico.