Assessing technology in the absence of proof: Trust based on the interplay of others opinions and the interaction process

P.W. de Vries, S.M. Berg, van den, C.J.H. Midden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: The present research addresses the question of how trust in systems is formed when unequivocal information about system accuracy and reliability is absent, and focuses on the interaction of indirect information (others' evaluations) and direct (experiential) information stemming from the interaction process. Background: Trust in decision-supporting technology, such as route planners, is important for satisfactory user interactions. Little is known, however, about trust formation in the absence of outcome feedback, that is, when users have not yet had opportunity to verify actual outcomes. Method: Three experiments manipulated others' evaluations ("endorsement cues") and various forms of experience-based information ("process feedback") in interactions with a route planner and measured resulting trust using rating scales and credits staked on the outcome. Subsequently, an overall analysis was conducted. Results: Study 1 showed that effectiveness of endorsement cues on trust is moderated by mere process feedback. In Study 2, consistent (i.e., nonrandom) process feedback overruled the effect of endorsement cues on trust, whereas inconsistent process feedback did not. Study 3 showed that although the effects of consistent and inconsistent process feedback largely remained regardless of face validity, high face validity in process feedback caused higher trust than those with low face validity. An overall analysis confirmed these findings. Conclusion: Experiential information impacts trust even if outcome feedback is not available, and, moreover, overrules indirect trust cues - depending on the nature of the former. Application: Designing systems so that they allow novice users to make inferences about their inner workings may foster initial trust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1378-1402
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • consistency
  • face validity
  • outcome feedback
  • process feedback
  • system trust


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