Artificial Intelligence, Trust, and Perceptions of Agency

Academy of Management Review, Forthcoming

INSEAD Working Paper No. 2023/47/STR

46 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2021 Last revised: 26 Jan 2024

Date Written: January 24, 2024


Modern artificial intelligence (AI) technologies based on deep learning architectures are often perceived as agentic to varying degrees—typically as more agentic than other technologies but less agentic than humans. We theorize how different levels of perceived agency of AI affect human trust in AI. We do so by investigating three causal pathways. First, an AI (and its designer) perceived as more agentic will be seen as more capable, and therefore will be perceived as more trustworthy. Second, the more the AI is perceived as agentic, the more important are trustworthiness perceptions about the AI relative to those about its designer. Third, because of betrayal aversion, the anticipated psychological cost of the AI violating trust increases with how agentic it is perceived to be. These causal pathways imply, perhaps counterintuitively, that making an AI appear more agentic may increase or decrease the trust that humans place in it: success at meeting the Turing test may go hand in hand with a decrease of trust in AI. We formulate propositions linking agency perceptions to trust in AI, by exploiting variations in the context in which the human-AI interaction occurs and the dynamics of trust updating. We also discuss implications for the design of interventions to affect human trust in AI.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Trust, Agency, Betrayal Aversion

JEL Classification: M00, M14, Z10

Suggested Citation

Vanneste, Bart and Puranam, Phanish, Artificial Intelligence, Trust, and Perceptions of Agency (January 24, 2024). Academy of Management Review, Forthcoming , INSEAD Working Paper No. 2023/47/STR, Available at SSRN: or

Bart Vanneste (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Phanish Puranam

INSEAD ( email )

1 Ayer Rajah Avenue
Singapore, 138676


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