How Can They Know That? A Study of Factors Affecting the Creepiness of Recommendations

Torkamaan, H., Barbu, C.-M., & Ziegler, J. (2019). In T. Bogers & A. Said (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems (pp. 423–427). ACM.


Recommender systems (RS) often use implicit user preferences extracted from behavioral and contextual data, in addition to traditional rating-based preference elicitation, to increase the quality and accuracy of personalized recommendations. However, these approaches may harm user experience by causing mixed emotions, such as fear, anxiety, surprise, discomfort, or creepiness. RS should consider users’ feelings, expectations, and reactions that result from being shown personalized recommendations. This paper investigates the creepiness of recommendations using an online experiment in three domains: movies, hotels, and health. We define the feeling of creepiness caused by recommendations and find out that it is already known to users of RS. We further find out that the perception of creepiness varies across domains and depends on recommendation features, like causal ambiguity and accuracy. By uncovering possible consequences of creepy recommendations, we also learn that creepiness can have a negative influence on brand and platform attitudes, purchase or consumption intention, user experience, and users’ expectations of—and their trust in—RS.

Additional information


Related publications

The Influence of Trust Cues on the Trustworthiness of Online Reviews for Recommendations

Co-Staying: a Social Network for Increasing the Trustworthiness of Hotel Recommendations

Users’ Choices About Hotel Booking: Cues for Personalizing the Presentation of Recommendations

More »