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Asymmetries in Human Tolerance of Uncertainty in Interaction with Alarm Systems: Effects of Risk Perception or Evidence for a General Commission Bias?

Günzler, Torsten; Manzey, Dietrich

Providing access towards raw data is often considered to be a good solution for improving human decision making in interaction with imperfect automated decision support such as alarm systems. However, there is some evidence that such cross-checking measures are used in an asymmetric manner with respect to the amount of uncertainty involved in the decision. Namely, people seem to accept low amounts of uncertainty when complying with an alarm cue, but not when contradicting it. The current study investigates the question whether this phenomenon is limited to alarm systems and a high risk environment. Within a multi-task PC simulation participants performed a low risk monitoring task which was supported by a system neutrally framed as “assistant system”. In one group the cues emitted by the system were 90% correct, in the other 10% were correct, thus causing a 10% uncertainty about the real state in both conditions. Results show a strong asymmetry as participants in the latter condition spent a high amount of effort in reducing their uncertainty, while participants in the former condition did not. Furthermore participants’ behavior almost exactly replicates the asymmetric cross-checking pattern found in a former study which employed a comparatively high risk monitoring task supported by an “alarm system”. This supports the hypothesis that the observed commission bias represents a general phenomenon in the context of automated decision support, irrespective of the risk attributed to the environment and irrespective of whether the system represents an alarm system or not.
Published in: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 10.1177/1541931213571301, SAGE Publications
  • Dieser Beitrag ist mit Zustimmung des Rechteinhabers aufgrund einer (DFG geförderten) Allianz- bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich.
  • This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.