Enhancing Human Persuasion With Large Language Models

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Although large language models (LLMs) are reshaping various aspects of human life, our current understanding of their impacts remains somewhat constrained. Here we investigate the impact of LLMs on human communication, in the context of consumer complaints in the financial industry. Employing an AI detection tool on more than 780K complaints gathered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), we find evidence of LLM usage in the writing of complaints – shortly after the release of ChatGPT. Our analyses reveal that LLM usage is positively correlated with the likelihood of obtaining desirable outcomes (i.e., offer of relief from financial firms) and suggest that this positive correlation may be partly due to the linguistic features improved by LLMs. We test this conjecture with a preregistered experiment, which reveals results consistent with those from observational studies: Consumer complaints written with ChatGPT for improved linguistic qualities were more likely to receive hypothetical relief offers than the original consumer complaints, demonstrating the LLM’s ability to enhance message persuasiveness in human communication. Being some of the earliest empirical evidence on LLM usage for enhancing persuasion, our results highlight the transformative potential of LLMs in human communication.

Ryan Watkins