Algorithm Appreciation: People Prefer Algorithmic To Human Judgment

56 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2017 Last revised: 24 Apr 2018

Jennifer Logg

Harvard University

Julia Minson

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Don A. Moore

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: April 24, 2018

Abstract

Even though computational algorithms often outperform human judgment, received wisdom suggests that people may be skeptical of relying on them (Dawes, 1979). Counter to this notion, results from six experiments show that lay people adhere more to advice when they think it comes from an algorithm than from a person. People showed this sort of algorithm appreciation when making numeric estimates about a visual stimulus (Experiment 1A) and forecasts about the popularity of songs and romantic matches (Experiments 1B and 1C). Yet, researchers predicted the opposite result (Experiment 1D). Algorithm appreciation persisted when advice appeared jointly or separately (Experiment 2). However, algorithm appreciation waned when: people chose between an algorithm’s estimate and their own (versus an external advisor’s; Experiment 3) and they had expertise in forecasting (Experiment 4). Paradoxically, experienced professionals, who make forecasts on a regular basis, relied less on algorithmic advice than lay people did, which hurt their accuracy. These results shed light on the important question of when people rely on algorithmic advice over advice from people and have implications for the use of “big data” and algorithmic advice it generates.

Keywords: algorithms, accuracy, decision-making, advice-taking, forecasting, theory of machine

Suggested Citation

Logg, Jennifer and Minson, Julia and Moore, Don A., Algorithm Appreciation: People Prefer Algorithmic To Human Judgment (April 24, 2018). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 17-086. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941774 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2941774

Jennifer Logg (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Julia Minson

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Don A. Moore

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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