The effects of personality and locus of control on trust in humans versus artificial intelligence




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Peer reviewed



Abstract Introduction We are increasingly exposed to applications that embed some sort of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, and there is a general belief that people trust any AI-based product or service without question. This study investigated the effect of personality characteristics (Big Five Inventory (BFI) traits and locus of control (LOC)) on trust behaviour, and the extent to which people trust the advice from an AI-based algorithm, more than humans, in a decision-making card game.

Method One hundred and seventy-one adult volunteers decided whether the final covered card, in a five-card sequence over ten trials, had a higher/lower number than the second-to-last card. They either received no suggestion (control), recommendations from what they were told were previous participants (humans), or an AI-based algorithm (AI). Trust behaviour was measured as response time and concordance (number of participants' responses that were the same as the suggestion), and trust beliefs were measured as self-reported trust ratings.

Results It was found that LOC influences trust concordance and trust ratings, which are correlated. In particular, LOC negatively predicted beyond the BFI dimensions trust concordance. As LOC levels increased, people were less likely to follow suggestions from both humans or AI. Neuroticism negatively predicted trust ratings. Openness predicted reaction time, but only for suggestions from previous participants. However, people chose the AI suggestions more than those from humans, and self-reported that they believed such recommendations more.

Conclusions The results indicate that LOC accounts for a significant variance for trust concordance and trust ratings, predicting beyond BFI traits, and affects the way people select whom they trust whether humans or AI. These findings also support the AI-based algorithm appreciation.


open access article


Psychology, Trust, Artificial intelligence, Locus of control, Big five personality traits, Individual traits


Sharan, N.N. and Romano, D.M. (2020) The effects of personality and locus of control on trust in humans versus artificial intelligence. Heliyon, 6 (8), e04572


Research Institute

Institute of Artificial Intelligence (IAI)