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Hum Factors. 2017 Feb;59(1):116-133. doi: 10.1177/0018720816687205.

A Little Anthropomorphism Goes a Long Way.

Author information

1
George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.
2
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
3
Virginia Hospital Center, Fairfax Hospital, Arlington, Virginia.
4
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, Maryland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We investigated the effects of exogenous oxytocin on trust, compliance, and team decision making with agents varying in anthropomorphism (computer, avatar, human) and reliability (100%, 50%).

BACKGROUND:

Authors of recent work have explored psychological similarities in how people trust humanlike automation compared with how they trust other humans. Exogenous administration of oxytocin, a neuropeptide associated with trust among humans, offers a unique opportunity to probe the anthropomorphism continuum of automation to infer when agents are trusted like another human or merely a machine.

METHOD:

Eighty-four healthy male participants collaborated with automated agents varying in anthropomorphism that provided recommendations in a pattern recognition task.

RESULTS:

Under placebo, participants exhibited less trust and compliance with automated aids as the anthropomorphism of those aids increased. Under oxytocin, participants interacted with aids on the extremes of the anthropomorphism continuum similarly to placebos but increased their trust, compliance, and performance with the avatar, an agent on the midpoint of the anthropomorphism continuum.

CONCLUSION:

This study provides the first evidence that administration of exogenous oxytocin affected trust, compliance, and team decision making with automated agents. These effects provide support for the premise that oxytocin increases affinity for social stimuli in automated aids.

APPLICATION:

Designing automation to mimic basic human characteristics is sufficient to elicit behavioral trust outcomes that are driven by neurological processes typically observed in human-human interactions. Designers of automated systems should consider the task, the individual, and the level of anthropomorphism to achieve the desired outcome.

KEYWORDS:

autonomous agents; compliance and reliance; human–automation interaction; neuroergonomics; oxytocin; trust in automation; virtual humans

PMID:
28146673
PMCID:
PMC5477060
DOI:
10.1177/0018720816687205
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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