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A framework for explaining reliance on decision aids

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Author: Dongen, C.J.G. van · Maanen, P.P. van
Source:International Journal of Human-Computers Studies, 4, 71, 410-424
Identifier: 469441
doi: doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2012.10.018
Keywords: Psychology · Automation reliance · Automation trust · Decision support systems · Decision aids · Informational asymmetry · Pattern Learning · Prediction tasks · Psychological factors · Training procedures · Understandability · Artificial intelligence · Behavioral research · Forecasting · Reliability · Decision support systems · Defence, Safety and Security · Human · HOI - Human Behaviour & Organisational Innovations · BSS - Behavioural and Societal Sciences


This study presents a framework for understanding task and psychological factors affecting reliance on advice from decision aids. The framework describes how informational asymmetries in combination with rational, motivational and heuristic factors explain human reliance behavior. To test hypotheses derived from the framework, 79 participants performed an uncertain pattern learning and prediction task. They received advice from a decision aid either before or after they expressed their own prediction, and received feedback about performance. When their prediction conflicted with that of the decision aid, participants had to choose to rely on their own prediction or on that of the decision aid. We measured reliance behavior, perceived and actual reliability of self and decision aid, responsibility felt for task outcomes, understandability of one's own reasoning and of the decision aid, and attribution of errors. We found evidence that (1) reliance decisions are based on relative trust, but only when advice is presented after people have formed their own prediction; (2) when people rely as much on themselves as on the decision aid, they still perceive the decision aid to be more reliable than themselves; (3) the less people perceive the decision aid's reasoning to be cognitively available and understandable, the less people rely on the decision aid; (4) the more people feel responsible for the task outcome, the more they rely on the decision aid; (5) when feedback about performance is provided, people underestimate both one's own reliability and that of the decision aid; (6) underestimation of the reliability of the decision aid is more prevalent and more persistent than underestimation of one's own reliability; and (7) unreliability of the decision aid is less attributed to temporary and uncontrollable (but not external) causes than one's own unreliability. These seven findings are potentially applicable for the improved design of decision aids and training procedures. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.