Everyone Is Equally Rude to Their Smart Speakers but Women Mind Their Ps and Qs

By Shabana Arif on at

A recent survey claims that smart speakers' voice assistants understand men more than women, and that women are more polite, but the questions rely on subjective answers and interpretations of what participants are being asked.

Rather than having them interact with a speaker and record the results in an effort to get some measure of objective, observable data, YouGov UK carried out a poll on 1,000 people (509 men and 491 women) asking them to weigh in on how often they're 'rude' to their smart speakers, how often they say "please" and "thank you", and how often their device fails to respond to voice commands.

Participants' ages encompassed 18 - 55+ and answer ranged from always, often, and sometimes, to rarely, and never. Something to take into consideration - aside from the heavy subjectivity involved when deciding on what constitutes being rude to an inanimate object - is that there is a difference in how men and women complain in consumer culture (via Business News Daily) with factors like what others may think of them, and who they're more likely to complain to being taken into account.

Looking at the results, the majority of every group's answers fell into the 'sometimes' and 'rarely' brackets, and the region the participants were from didn't seem to affect the results to any discernible amount, which is interesting given that similar polls have users with regional accents reporting that their voice assistants struggle to understand them.

Drilling down to the nitty gritty, 49% of women surveyed said that their smart speaker 'sometimes' failed to respond to voice commands compared to 40% of the sampled men. The group that reported struggling the most was 35-44 year olds with 54% saying it 'sometimes' didn't respond. Younger respondents didn't have near as much trouble.

33% of women claimed to 'often' say "please" and "thank you" compared to 23% of men, but that gap narrowed down to a 3% difference in the 'sometimes' category. 18-24 year olds were the highest overall, with 44% minding their Ps and Qs.

When it came to being rude to smart speakers, men and women were pretty much like for like in their responses, although the survey didn't define what should be considered as rude.

33% of the women polled said it was 'fairly important' to treat smart speakers as they would another person, compared to 26% of men, and Welsh are staunchly in agreement, with 45% concurring. Meanwhile 40% of the Irish said it was 'not all important'.

So what does all of this tell is? I'd say not a great deal. These are subjective answers based on customer satisfaction essentially, and there are more significant differences to be picked out based on regions and age, than there are gender.

If you'd like to find a smart speaker of your very own to abuse, you've got a number of options, including the Amazon's Echo range, the Bose which we thought was a great-sounding alternative to the Echo, and Google Home.