An Examination of Decision Aid Reliance in a Dynamic Environment
Briggs, John Whitfield
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Computerized decision aids are powerful tools to assist with decision-making. Decision models are designed to incorporate and analyze available data in order to present a recommended solution to a problem. Business decision makers, including accountants, have much to gain from integrating decision support technology with their own skills and experience. Several studies have determined that there are many instances in which these decision aids perform favorably to human decision-makers. Despite this fact, studies have shown that reliance upon these aids is incomplete, even when they process data in a highly efficient manner. On the other hand, decision aids have limitations. If such a decision support system is not updated to match changing conditions, relying on the aid can lead to suboptimal decision-making. This study uses a laboratory experiment involving a managerial accounting task: prediction of manufacturing overhead costs. In the experimental scenario, a decision support system's recommended solutions become inaccurate due to a shift in environmental conditions. The first research objective is to determine whether subjects rely on the aid's advice before this change and, to their detriment, after the change. The second research objective is to examine whether the feedback environment, the timing of the decision aid's inclusion into the task, or the inherent confidence level of the task participant affect the tendency to rely on the aid in both of these environmental conditions. The results of the study provide evidence that decision-makers rely on decision aids, and are susceptible to over-reliance on them. These findings add to the results of prior studies that only examine a single trial task. Additionally, it is determined that the timing of a decision aid's recommendation can affect the degree to which it is relied upon. Next, there is evidence that feedback environment can help reliance and mitigate over-reliance. There is no evidence that task confidence affects reliance. Lastly, decision aids result in longer amounts of time used to complete the task.
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