Letting go of the wheel:

Understanding the nature and role of consumer trust in autonomous vehicle adoption

Autonomous vehicles (AVs), for example, have the potential to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10% past current EPA standards (Mersky & Samaras, 2016), in addition to reducing fatal crash rates (Fagnant & Kockelman, 2015), compared to human-operated vehicles, yet public acceptance of AVs remains low, with 54% of the general public expressing some level of worry about AV technology (Pew Research, 2018). This two-year project will examine the nature and influence of consumer trust on AV acceptance. Building on emerging work that has explored the influence of general trust in AVs on AV acceptance (Choi & Ji, 2015; Dixon et al., 2018; Liu et al., 2018), we explore trust as a multi-dimensional construct. We assess and examine the influence of three facets of trust on AV adoption intent (i.e., social, media, and software trust). Further, advancing knowledge in risk and decision science that has established affect as a heuristic in risk decision-making (Finucane et al., 2000; Slovic & Peters, 2006), we test whether trust is used as a heuristic when evaluating risks of AVs. In Study 1, we use an experimental design in which approximately 500 participants assessed perceived risk of AVs in either a treatment (under time pressure) or control (not under time pressure) condition. Study 2 will experimentally test consumers’ willingness to ride in AVs after exposure to different trust-based communications and marketing strategies.

Project Phase: Study 1 data collection complete- manuscript in preparation; Study 2 conceptual development in progress

Funding Acknowledgement: OSU Center for Automotive Research