Under Pressure: Examining Social Conformity With Computer and Robot Groups

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Authors: Nicholas Hertz and Eva Wiese
Date: Dec. 2018
From: Human Factors(Vol. 60, Issue 8)
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Author abstract; Brief article; Report
Length: 262 words

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Abstract :

Objective: The authors investigate whether nonhuman agents, such as computers or robots, produce a social conformity effect in human operators and examine to what extent potential conformist behavior varies as a function of the human-likeness of the group members and the type of task that has to be performed. Background: People conform due to normative and/or informational motivations in human-human interactions, and conformist behavior is modulated by factors related to the individual as well as factors associated with the group, context, and culture. Studies have yet to examine whether nonhuman agents also induce social conformity. Method: Participants were assigned to a computer, robot, or human group and completed both a social and analytical task with the respective group. Results: Conformity measures (percentage of times participants answered in line with agents on critical trials) subjected to a 3 x 2 mixed ANOVA showed significantly higher conformity rates for the analytical versus the social task as well as a modulation of conformity depending of the perceived agent-task fit. Conclusion: Findings indicate that nonhuman agents were able to exert a social conformity effect, which was modulated further by the perceived match between agent and task type. Participants conformed to comparable degrees with agents during the analytical task but conformed significantly more strongly on the social task as the group's human-likeness increased. Application: Results suggest that users may react differently to the influence of nonhuman agent groups with the potential for variability in conformity depending on the domain of the task. Keywords: compliance and reliance, trust in automation, human-automation interaction, decision making, social psychology

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A563358774