Automation bias: a systematic review of frequency, effect mediators, and mitigators

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012 Jan-Feb;19(1):121-7. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000089. Epub 2011 Jun 16.


Automation bias (AB)--the tendency to over-rely on automation--has been studied in various academic fields. Clinical decision support systems (CDSS) aim to benefit the clinical decision-making process. Although most research shows overall improved performance with use, there is often a failure to recognize the new errors that CDSS can introduce. With a focus on healthcare, a systematic review of the literature from a variety of research fields has been carried out, assessing the frequency and severity of AB, the effect mediators, and interventions potentially mitigating this effect. This is discussed alongside automation-induced complacency, or insufficient monitoring of automation output. A mix of subject specific and freetext terms around the themes of automation, human-automation interaction, and task performance and error were used to search article databases. Of 13 821 retrieved papers, 74 met the inclusion criteria. User factors such as cognitive style, decision support systems (DSS), and task specific experience mediated AB, as did attitudinal driving factors such as trust and confidence. Environmental mediators included workload, task complexity, and time constraint, which pressurized cognitive resources. Mitigators of AB included implementation factors such as training and emphasizing user accountability, and DSS design factors such as the position of advice on the screen, updated confidence levels attached to DSS output, and the provision of information versus recommendation. By uncovering the mechanisms by which AB operates, this review aims to help optimize the clinical decision-making process for CDSS developers and healthcare practitioners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Automation*
  • Aviation
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Humans
  • Task Performance and Analysis