Prejudiced against the Machine? Implicit Associations and the Transience of Algorithm Aversion

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Publication History

Received: January 11, 2022
Revised: June 12, 2022; August 6, 2022; November 28, 2022
Accepted: December 15, 2022
Published Online as Articles in Advance: November 30, 2023
Published Online in Issue: December 1, 2023

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Algorithm aversion is an important and persistent issue that prevents harvesting the benefits of advancements in artificial intelligence. The literature thus far has provided explanations that primarily focus on conscious reflective processes. Here, we supplement this view by taking an unconscious perspective that can be highly informative. Building on theories of implicit prejudice, in a preregistered study, we suggest that people develop an implicit bias (i.e., prejudice) against artificial intelligence (AI) systems, as a different and threatening “species,” the behavior of which is unknown. Like in other contexts of prejudice, we expected people to be guided by this implicit bias but try to override it. This leads to some willingness to rely on algorithmic advice (appreciation), which is reduced as a function of people’s implicit prejudice against the machine. Next, building on the somatic marker hypothesis and the accessibility-diagnosticity perspective, we provide an explanation as to why aversion is ephemeral. As people learn about the performance of an algorithm, they depend less on primal implicit biases when deciding whether to rely on the AI’s advice. Two studies (n1 = 675, n2 = 317) that use the implicit association test consistently support this view. Two additional studies (n3 = 255, n4 = 332) rule out alternative explanations and provide stronger support for our assertions. The findings ultimately suggest that moving the needle between aversion and appreciation depends initially on one’s general unconscious bias against AI because there is insufficient information to override it. They further suggest that in later use stages, this shift depends on accessibility to diagnostic information about the AI’s performance, which reduces the weight given to unconscious prejudice.

Additional Details
Author Ofir Turel and Shivam Kalhan
Year 2023
Volume 47
Issue 4
Keywords Artificial intelligence, AI, algorithm aversion, algorithm appreciation, prejudice, implicit association test, human-AI interaction, somatic marker hypothesis, accessibility-diagnosticity perspective
Page Numbers 1369-1394
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