Humans perceive warmth and competence in artificial intelligence

Kevin R. McKee, Xuechunzi Bai, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Artificial intelligence (A.I.) increasingly suffuses everyday life. However, people are frequently reluctant to interact with A.I. systems. This challenges both the deployment of beneficial A.I. technology and the development of deep learning systems that depend on humans for oversight, direction, and regulation. Nine studies (N = 3,300) demonstrate that social-cognitive processes guide human interactions across a diverse range of real-world A.I. systems. Across studies, perceived warmth and competence emerge prominently in participants’ impressions of A.I. systems. Judgments of warmth and competence systematically depend on human-A.I. interdependence and autonomy. In particular, participants perceive systems that optimize interests aligned with human interests as warmer and systems that operate independently from human direction as more competent. Finally, a prisoner's dilemma game shows that warmth and competence judgments predict participants’ willingness to cooperate with a deep-learning system. These results underscore the generality of intent detection to perceptions of a broad array of algorithmic actors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107256
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 18 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Psychology


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