Adopt behavioral design to increase consumer trust in new technologies
Behavioral design is design that is informed by insights from human psychology. Armed with these insights, companies can create products, features, interfaces and messaging that accounts for the cognitive biases that human augmentation technologies are likely to trigger. Here are some examples:
We are predisposed to fear new technologies
Automation is already sparking fears about everything from job losses to AV safety to the prospect of AI becoming self-aware and threatening humanity. While any new technology certainly creates some risks, several cognitive biases predispose humans to overestimate such threats.
Probability neglect leads us to focus on the magnitude of outcomes (e.g., dying in a car crash) rather than their associated probabilities (e.g., automated vehicles are statistically safer than human drivers). To the extent we do process probabilities, we tend to overestimate small chances.
The availability heuristic leads people to focus on, and exaggerate the importance of, readily available information. So, the barrage of news coverage about a single AV crash while in automated mode drowns out a sea of underlying data about AV safety.
Such fears are already being triggered by AI and AVs. Expect more as technologies such as passenger drones and brain-machine interfaces come into their own.
Key questions to consider:
- How will the design of our next-generation products and services intersect with human psychology?
- How could our messaging and marketing strategy mitigate the fear of new technologies?
- Do we know how to address safety concerns at the emotional level rather than through just disseminating safety data?
- How could we leverage the power of social groups and networks to boost trust in our offerings?
Control is important
“The human brain is built to control its environment — it’s a key motivator that drives us,” says Tali Sharot, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and an EYQ Fellow at EY. “Having a sense of agency and an opportunity to make a choice triggers a reward signal in our brain, similar to eating a piece of chocolate, while the loss of control can trigger anxiety.”
It’s not surprising, therefore, that the illusion of control bias predisposes us to want to feel that we have control even in situations where we don’t. The “door close” button in many elevators, for instance, does not affect how soon elevator doors shut — it merely gives users a sense of control.
This aspect of human psychology will become increasingly relevant as human augmentation technologies start acting on our behalf. For instance, AVs could in theory enable a complete redesign of automotive cabins to look more like living rooms or gyms, but the need for control might instead mean that steering wheels and brake pedals have to be retained.