Amazon's Alexa Can Help Change Subject of Conversation During Christmas Arguments

Fun debate questions and thoughtful responses are set up on the virtual assistant to lighten the mood if a heated holiday conversation occurs

Amazon New Devices, Seattle, USA - 27 Sep 2017
Photo: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Amazon’s Alexa just might come in handy during arguments this holiday season.

In anticipation of heated conversations between family members on Christmas, the online retailer announced a feature that allows the virtual assistant to change the subject of the conversation.

According to Amazon, a survey conducted by a team of researchers found that 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Day is the time that family arguments are most likely to begin in the U.K.

In the event that the family fun turns to family fiasco, people can use the phrase, “Alexa, change the subject,” which will prompt the virtual assistant to ask a series of distracting debate questions.

Anything from “What’s your favorite animal, and why?” to “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” may be asked by Alexa. Other questions include “If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and why?”, “Do you have a celebrity crush? Who is it? And why?” and “Pineapple on pizza was the greatest culinary development of the 20th century. Discuss…”

Amazon Alexa
Amazon Echo speaker with programmed Alexa. Amazon

Besides the time of day that family arguments are most likely to start, the survey — which was conducted in the U.K. — also determined who the squabbles commonly involved, how long families spend together over the holiday break, and what the arguments will be about.

Of the 1,500 Britains who were surveyed, the report found that the average family spent 75 total hours together, with 46 percent of those people admitting that their family time ultimately ends up being stressful.

According to the study, 25 percent of people said they’re most likely to argue with their mother, but a majority claimed the dispute occurred between siblings.

Money turned out to be the leading cause of the arguments (27 percent) but was closely followed by what to watch on television (25 percent) and general bad behavior (22 percent).

Other reasons for familial disagreements in the U.K. included bad gifts, relationships, television spoilers, and who has to clean up Christmas dinner.

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Surprisingly, researchers also noted that relatives are more likely to fight over the rules of a board game and family gossip than about politics.

As for what happens when these squabbles occur? According to reachers, 43 percent of people said they refrain from commenting on the matter or walk away, while others said they attempt to diffuse the situation with a creative distraction.

Some of these methods included offering food and drinks (34 percent), asking someone to go for a walk and get some fresh air (28 percent), suggesting everyone plays a game (21 percent), sharing a funny video (13 percent), and spontaneously singing or dancing (14 percent).

The survey also concluded that the average person is five times more likely to attempt to shift the topic of conversation when these holiday arguments occur.

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