The Acceptance of Driverless Cars: The Roles of Perceived Outcomes and Technology Usefulness

Gustavo S. Mesch, Matias Dodel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The accelerating development of autonomous vehicles is expected to have important effects on society such as reducing the number of traffic accidents, preventing the disabilities and deaths attributed to car accidents, and reducing pollution. However, their adoption depends on the willingness of the population to accept this innovation and incorporate it in their everyday activities. This study investigated the association between socio-demographic factors, political ideology, and attitudes toward technology and its perceived potential impact on society on support for driverless cars. We conducted a secondary analysis of a large sample of employees in the United States (n = 2,470). Based on conceptual frameworks relevant to the study of technology adoption such as the self-interest hypothesis, the usefulness of the technology, ideological orientation, and socio-demographic gaps in attitudes toward technology, our results indicate that perceived social outcomes of driverless cars are strongly associated with their support. Age and gender are negatively associated with support for autonomous vehicles. In contrast, perceived positive outcomes of the introduction of technology in the workplace are positively associated with them. Individuals with a consistently conservative ideology are also less likely to be supporters of autonomous vehicles. Our findings indicate that the centrality of the expected societal impact of autonomous vehicles implies the need to provide the public with accurate facts about their expected effect. Doing so is critical to increasing the public’s willingness to adopt the technology and support its production. People must also be reassured that regulations and product designs will be created to ensure their safety.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1736-1754
    Number of pages19
    JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
    Issue number14
    StatePublished - Dec 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2022 SAGE Publications.


    • autonomous vehicles
    • familiarity hypothesis
    • perceived usefulness
    • technology adoption

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Cultural Studies
    • Education
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • General Social Sciences


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