The influence of algorithms on political and dating decisions

PLoS One. 2021 Apr 21;16(4):e0249454. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249454. eCollection 2021.


Artificial intelligence algorithms are ubiquitous in daily life, and this is motivating the development of some institutional initiatives to ensure trustworthiness in Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, there is not enough research on how these algorithms can influence people's decisions and attitudes. The present research examines whether algorithms can persuade people, explicitly or covertly, on whom to vote and date, or whether, by contrast, people would reject their influence in an attempt to confirm their personal freedom and independence. In four experiments, we found that persuasion was possible and that different styles of persuasion (e.g., explicit, covert) were more effective depending on the decision context (e.g., political and dating). We conclude that it is important to educate people against trusting and following the advice of algorithms blindly. A discussion on who owns and can use the data that makes these algorithms work efficiently is also necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Attitude
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Politics*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

Support for this research was provided by Grant PSI2016-78818-R from Agencia Estatal de Investigación of the Spanish Government, and Grant IT955-16 from the Basque Government, both awarded to HM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.