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Designing for Trust: Understanding the Role of Agent Gender and Location on User Perceptions of Trust in Home Automation

[+] Author Affiliations
Nicole B. Damen, Christine A. Toh

University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE

Paper No. DETC2017-68349, pp. V007T06A044; 10 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 29th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA, August 6–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5821-9
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


The potential of smart home devices for improving the comfort, energy efficiency, and security of its residents has been noted by researchers and early adopters of these technologies. Despite these advantages and advances in home automation technology, their adoption has not been as widespread as anticipated by experts. Existing research has shown that the lack of trust in home devices is a significant deterrent to widespread adoption. There is little data on how this perceived trustworthiness of the system might be impacted by the location that the device operates in, and the perceived gender of the automated agent within the device. Therefore, this exploratory study addresses this knowledge gap by exploring the role of agent location (office / home) and gender of the agent’s voice (female / male) on perceptions of trustworthiness in a controlled laboratory setting with a simulated smart lock system. Preliminary results following quantitative and qualitative analysis of this pilot study show that users trust stereotype-congruent automated agents (male voice in office, female voice in home) more than stereotype-incongruent automated agents. These results shed light on users’ perceptions of trust with home automation devices, and provide directions for future research and development of trustworthy home automation devices.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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