Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

James P. Bliss

Committee Member

Poornima Madhavan

Committee Member

Robin J. Lewis


There have been several theoretical frameworks that acknowledge trust as a prime mediator between system characteristics and automation reliance. Some researchers have operationally defined trust as the behavior exhibited. Other researchers have suggested that although trust may guide operator response behaviors, trust does not completely determine the behavior and advocate the use of subjective measures of trust. Recently, several studies accounting for temporal precedence failed to confirm that trust mediated the relationship between system characteristics and response behavior. The purpose of the current work was to clarify the roles that trust plays in response behavior when interacting with a signaling system. Forty-four participants interacted with a primary flight simulation task and a secondary signaling system task. The signaling system varied in reliability (90% and 60%) within subjects and error bias (false alarm prone and miss prone) between subjects. Analyses indicated that trust partially mediated the relationship between reliability and agreement rate. Trust did not, however, mediate the relationship between reliability and reaction time. Trust also did not mediate the relationships between error bias and reaction time or agreement rate. Analyses of variance generally supported specific behavioral and trust hypotheses, indicating that the paradigm employed produced similar effects on response behaviors and subjective estimates of trust observed in other studies. The results of this study indicate that other mediating variables may offer more predictive power in determining response behaviors. Additionally, strong assumptions of trust acting as the prime mediator and operationally defining trust as a type of behavior should be viewed with caution.


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