The psychology behind using – or not using – AI


As the ties between AI and communications grow stronger each day, exploring how technology and psychology intertwine gets more and more interesting. Therefore, we invited Niklas Laninge – psychiatrist, author and behavioural expert – to speak on this topic. How come some dive right into AI, while others are hesitant? What can we do to help people get started with AI, and why is it important? And are there any psychological risks with using AI that we actually should be aware of? During a Mynewsdesk webinar, Niklas Laninge shared all his insights!

Eager to watch the webinar? Find it here. If you prefer to get some of the key takeaways, continue reading this blog post!

Why some fear using AI

How come some people are more hesitant towards using AI than others? Niklas Laninge speaks about the psychology behind this, as he brings up the concept “loss aversion”. This concept focuses on the fact that a lot of people are more afraid of taking risks and thereby possibly losing something, than they are thrilled to win. In some situations, this is really helpful. Being a bit neurotic from time to time has been crucial when it comes to the survival of mankind.

However, when it comes to AI, loss aversion could have the opposite effect. Laninge claims that the main concern people should have is what will happen if they don’t jump on the AI train. He believes AI will create a gap in the workforce between those who dare to dive into it, and those who are hesitant.

Laninge also suggests that sometimes, loss aversion is not so much a personality trait, as it is contextual. Many big corporations reprimand rather than reward their employees. This creates a workplace where the staff is more afraid to do something wrong than motivated to do right. In such an environment, dabbling with AI may not be worth the risk.

Now, how can you lower these thresholds?

How to overcome your own fears of AI

If you’re afraid that AI may take over the world, or at least your job, how should you deal with it? Laninge underlines that just like with any fear, it’s important that others show empathy and take you seriously. He also points out that professional help exists, and that curing this type of anxiety is really easy. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional if needed!

If you want to try lowering the threshold on your own, he has some tips you can try as well. Laninge explains that overcoming any type of fear starts with exposure to that fear. In other words – you have to give AI a shot! You can get started by using AI for something simple that’s not even work-related. Niklas Laninge’s example is to use it for generating a birthday card. Nothing bad will happen if AI doesn’t succeed with that task! Another idea is to initiate “group therapy” in the office, by asking a colleague who’s already using AI if you can try it together. Doing something with others usually helps us gain confidence and lower the threshold.

How to help others overcome their fears of AI

If you’re an AI enthusiast, your biggest concern with AI may be that others are hesitant. For example, you may know that you have a great AI solution that would benefit your clients, but not all of them dare to try it.

In this case, Laninge emphasizes the importance of addressing fears your clients may have. He explains that when someone is scared, benefits will not persuade them. From a communications perspective, this makes addressing fears possibly even more important than showcasing the benefits of your solution. Laninge stresses that concerns are almost always worse in our heads than in real life. By creating content that suggests what fears your clients may have, and explains how you have covered them, you are much more likely to convince your clients.

If it’s not your clients, but rather your team that is hesitant, there are ways to conquer fears when rolling out AI internally, too. Start by looking at previous internal success cases, and try to copy them. For example, if you’ve previously introduced new tech solutions such as Slack or Zoom successfully, do it the same way this time. Remind people of these success stories, and focus on how AI will improve their job, just as the rest of your tech stack has.

Another thing to consider is the attitude your company has towards AI in general. To some, using AI can feel like cheating. Avoid this by making sure using AI is a decision that’s coming from the top. This way, all employees feel comfortable – and maybe even pushed – to do it.

Want to learn more about what Niklas Laninge has to say about AI? Check out the webinar here!

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