Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Decision support systems are increasingly being adopted by various digital platforms. However, prior research has shown that certain contexts can induce algorithm aversion, leading people to reject their decision support. This paper investigates how and why the context in which users are making decisions (for-profit versus prosocial microlending decisions) affects their degree of algorithm aversion and ultimately their preference for more human-like (versus computer-like) decision support systems. The study proposes that contexts vary in their affordances for self-humanization. Specifically, people perceive prosocial decisions as more relevant to self-humanization than for-profit contexts, and, in consequence, they ascribe more importance to empathy and autonomy while making decisions in prosocial contexts. This increased importance of empathy and autonomy leads to a higher degree of algorithm aversion. At the same time, it also leads to a stronger preference for human-like decision support, which could therefore serve as a remedy for an algorithm aversion induced by the need for self-humanization. The results from an online experiment support the theorizing. The paper discusses both theoretical and design implications, especially for the potential of anthropomorphized conversational agents on platforms for prosocial decision-making.