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Homophily and Incentive Effects in Use of Algorithms

by   Riccardo Fogliato, et al.
Northeastern University
Carnegie Mellon University
University of California, San Diego

As algorithmic tools increasingly aid experts in making consequential decisions, the need to understand the precise factors that mediate their influence has grown commensurately. In this paper, we present a crowdsourcing vignette study designed to assess the impacts of two plausible factors on AI-informed decision-making. First, we examine homophily – do people defer more to models that tend to agree with them? – by manipulating the agreement during training between participants and the algorithmic tool. Second, we considered incentives – how do people incorporate a (known) cost structure in the hybrid decision-making setting? – by varying rewards associated with true positives vs. true negatives. Surprisingly, we found limited influence of either homophily and no evidence of incentive effects, despite participants performing similarly to previous studies. Higher levels of agreement between the participant and the AI tool yielded more confident predictions, but only when outcome feedback was absent. These results highlight the complexity of characterizing human-algorithm interactions, and suggest that findings from social psychology may require re-examination when humans interact with algorithms.


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