Why Are People’s Decisions Sometimes Worse with Computer Support?

  • Eugenio Alberdi
  • Lorenzo Strigini
  • Andrey A. Povyakalo
  • Peter Ayton
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5775)


In many applications of computerised decision support, a recognised source of undesired outcomes is operators’ apparent over-reliance on automation. For instance, an operator may fail to react to a potentially dangerous situation because a computer fails to generate an alarm. However, the very use of terms like “over-reliance” betrays possible misunderstandings of these phenomena and their causes, which may lead to ineffective corrective action (e.g. training or procedures that do not counteract all the causes of the apparently “over-reliant” behaviour). We review relevant literature in the area of “automation bias” and describe the diverse mechanisms that may be involved in human errors when using computer support. We discuss these mechanisms, with reference to errors of omission when using “alerting systems”, with the help of examples of novel counterintuitive findings we obtained from a case study in a health care application, as well as other examples from the literature.


decision support computer aided decision making alerting systems human-machine diversity omission errors 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugenio Alberdi
    • 1
  • Lorenzo Strigini
    • 1
  • Andrey A. Povyakalo
    • 1
  • Peter Ayton
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Software ReliabilityCity University LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentCity University LondonLondonUK

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