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Probability Weighting in Interactive Decisions: Evidence for Overuse of Bad Assistance, Underuse of Good Assistance

Andy Cockburn
Carl Gutwin
Zhe Chen
Pang Suwanaposee
Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, New York, NY


The effective use of assistive interfaces (i.e. those that offer suggestions or reform the user’s input to match inferred intentions) depends on users making good decisions about whether and when to engage or ignore assistive features. However, prior work from economics and psychology shows systematic decision-making biases in which people overreact to low probability events and underreact to high probability events – modelled using a probability weighting function. We examine the theoretical implications of this probability weighting for interaction, including its suggestion that users will overuse inaccurate interface assistance and underuse accurate assistance. We then conduct a new analysis of data from a previously published study, quantifying the degree of bias users exhibited, and demonstrating conformance with these predictions. We discuss implications for design, including strategies that could be used to mitigate the deleterious effects of the observed biases.