Hybrid trust in voice assistants (HYVES)

The DFG project “Hybrid Trust in Voice Assistants (HYVES)” investigates how and under which conditions trust in voice assistants emerges and which role trust plays for their integration into the everyday life of users.

The starting point is the increasing importance of human-sounding assistants in the everyday use of users. Based on this, the project of DIID members Katharina Frehmann and Prof. Dr. Marc Ziegele poses the question of the role of trust, which can arise or decline during use. For this purpose, findings from interdisciplinary trust research are reviewed and a new, multidimensional trust concept (“hybrid trust”) is developed, which is based on interpersonal, journalistic and technical trust.

To explore this trust concept, a total of three consecutive studies will be conducted within two project phases. First, the trust relationships of voice assistant users will be investigated qualitatively through content analyses of product reviews as well as through observations of and guided interviews with users. This is followed by an extensive quantitative panel study and an innovative product test. In the panel study, users of voice assistants are interviewed over several months about their use of the assistants in everyday life, their trust in the assistants, and the effects of their use. In the product test, people who are interested in voice assistants but do not yet use them are provided with a voice assistant. These people will also be accompanied and interviewed over several months. This allows trust relationships and their causes and consequences to be investigated from the outset.

With the concept of hybrid trust and the extensive empirical studies, the project contributes to social science trust research as well as to the understanding of trust relationships with voice assistants and their effects. The project, which will run until winter 2025, is funded by the German Research Foundation with approximately 310,000 euros.