Designing for Trust: Understanding the Role of Agent Gender and Location on User Perceptions of Trust in Home Automation

Nicole Damen, Christine Toh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Although trust can have a positively mediating effect on information technology adoption and usage, the concept has not been extensively investigated in the home automation field. Therefore, this work is aimed at exploring the role of agent location and the gender of the agent's voice on users' perception of trust toward automation through two experimental studies (N = 8 and N = 20) and a web-based smart lock simulation. Explicit trust behavior was captured using directly observable behaviors and decisions, while implicit trust behavior was captured using detailed click-level user behaviors with the smart lock simulation as a proxy for reaction time. The results show that users displayed more explicit trusting behavior toward the system when it displayed design characteristics that were stereotype congruent (female-home and male-office) compared to stereotype incongruent systems (male-home and female-office). These results show that users carry over the social expectations and roles encountered in human-to-human relationships to interactions with simulated automated agents. These findings empirically demonstrate the influence of design characteristics on the formation of trust relationships between users and automated devices and provide a foundation for future research geared at critically examining our evolving relationship with technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number061101
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design - Transactions of the ASME
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Home automation
  • automated agents
  • gender
  • implicit attitudes
  • location
  • stereotype congruence
  • trust
  • user behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Designing for Trust: Understanding the Role of Agent Gender and Location on User Perceptions of Trust in Home Automation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this