The mind in the machine: Anthropomorphism increases trust in an autonomous vehicle

Adam Waytz*, Joy Heafner, Nicholas Epley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

523 Scopus citations


Sophisticated technology is increasingly replacing human minds to perform complicated tasks in domains ranging from medicine to education to transportation. We investigated an important theoretical determinant of people's willingness to trust such technology to perform competently-the extent to which a nonhuman agent is anthropomorphized with a humanlike mind-in a domain of practical importance, autonomous driving. Participants using a driving simulator drove either a normal car, an autonomous vehicle able to control steering and speed, or a comparable autonomous vehicle augmented with additional anthropomorphic features-name, gender, and voice. Behavioral, physiological, and self-report measures revealed that participants trusted that the vehicle would perform more competently as it acquired more anthropomorphic features. Technology appears better able to perform its intended design when it seems to have a humanlike mind. These results suggest meaningful consequences of humanizing technology, and also offer insights into the inverse process of objectifying humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-117
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Dehumanization
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Mind perception
  • Moral responsibility
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The mind in the machine: Anthropomorphism increases trust in an autonomous vehicle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this