I want to talk to a real person: theorising avoidance in the acceptance and use of automated technologies

Katheryn R. Christy*, Jakob D. Jensen, Brian Britt, Courtney L. Scherr, Christina Jones, Natasha R. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Automated communication systems are increasingly common in mobile and ehealth contexts. Yet, there is a reason to believe that some high-risk segments of the population might be prone to avoid automated systems even though they are often designed to reach these groups. To facilitate research in this area, avoidance of automated communication (AAC) is theorised–and a measurement instrument validated–across two studies. In study 1, an AAC scale was found to be unidimensional and internally reliable as well as negatively correlated with comfort, perceptions, and intentions to use technology. Moreover, individuals with social phobia had lower AAC scores which was consistent with the idea that they preferred non-human interaction facilitated by automated communication. In study 2, confirmatory factor analysis supported the unidimensional structure of the measure and the instrument once again proved to be reliable. Individuals with lower AAC had greater intentions to utilise automated communication, EHRs, and an automated virtual nurse programme. AAC is a disposition that predicts significant variance in intentions and comfort with various automated communication technologies. Avoidance increases with age but may be mitigated by systems that allow participants to opt-out or immediately interact with a live person.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • Avoidance
  • automated communication
  • electronic health record
  • humancomputer interaction
  • virtual nurse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics


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