An emerging trend in the health care profession is the use of personal devices, websites and other forms of electronic media to improve individual health literacy and provide health care services.
Within this constellation of communication vehicles, computerized aids are being used to provide assistance or help for reaching a health care conclusion. The aids help an individual make a choice among alternatives.
In a new study, researchers discovered that computerized aids that include person-like characteristics can influence trust yet lead to dependence among adults.
A research team lead by Clemson University psychology associate professor Dr. Richard Pak examined how decision-making would be affected by a human-like aid.
The investigation focused on adults’ trust, dependence, and performance while using a computerized decision-making aid for persons with diabetes.
The study is unique in that it examines how the design of decision-support aids on consumer devices can influence the level of trust that users place in that system and how much they use it.
The design and look of an aid are important elements for designers because of the potential dangers associated when users trust unreliable decision aids or lack trust for reliable aids simply because of the their appearance.
“Just as trust is an important factor in how humans deal with other humans, it also can determine how users interact with computerized systems,” Pak said. “Trust can be influenced by the aid’s reliability and level of computerization as well as the user’s experience and age.”
Although many may not realize it, the use of computerized decision aids or automation has become a part of our daily routine. Use of devices such as smart phones, digital cameras, global positioning systems and computers has become a part of our existence.
Effective use of technology begins with a trust of technology. When automation is only reliable sometimes, a person’s level of trust becomes an important factor that determines how often the aid will be used.
“Figuring out how trust is affected by the design of computerized aids is important because we want people to trust and use only reliable aids,” said Pak.
Pak’s research findings have revealed that the inclusion of an image of a person can significantly alter perceptions of a computerized aid when there is no difference in the aid’s reliability or presentation of information.
“Humanlike computer aids provide a reduced decision-making reaction time for adults,” said Pak. “A plausible explanation is that the increase in trust led to an increased dependence on the aid, which led to faster performance.”
Research is ongoing on how an aid can be customized to improve trust in different age groups and gender. Pak is also studying how aids affect users when faced with decisions that have either a high consequence, such as making health decisions, or a low consequence, such as deciding what type of computer to buy.