International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 17–32 | Cite as

Does the Robot Have a Mind? Mind Perception and Attitudes Towards Robots Predict Use of an Eldercare Robot

  • Rebecca Q. StaffordEmail author
  • Bruce A. MacDonald
  • Chandimal Jayawardena
  • Daniel M. Wegner
  • Elizabeth Broadbent


Robots are starting to be developed for aged care populations and some of these have been made into commercial products that have been well received. However, little is known about the psychological factors that promote acceptance or rejection of robots by older people. Finding out more about these psychological determinants of robot uptake and acceptance is the primary focus of the study described in this paper. A healthcare robot feasibility study was conducted in a retirement village. Older people (n=25) were invited to use a prototype robot with healthcare functions over a two week period. Questionnaires were completed before and after the period. It was found that residents who held significantly more positive attitudes towards robots, and perceived robot minds to have less agency (ability to do things) were more likely to use the robot. It was also found that attitudes towards robots improved over time in robot-users. Our results suggest that the cognitions older people hold about robots may influence their decisions to use robots. The study results also validate participants’ subjective self-reports of attitudes towards robots and perceptions of robot mind, against the objective measure of robot use. Interventions to foster adaptive cognitions could be developed and applied in the design, deployment and marketing of robots to promote their use and acceptance.


HRI Older people Robots Health Mind perception Attitudes Technology acceptance models 



This work was jointly supported by the R&D program of the Korea Ministry of Knowledge and Economy (MKE) and Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology (KEIT) [KI001836: Development of Mediated Interface Technology for HRI] and the New Zealand Ministry for Science and Innovation (13635). We thank Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) for their valuable contributions and help with the research. We would also like to thank Yujin Robot for their technical support and our colleagues from the University of Auckland HealthBots research team for their on-going support. The HealthBots team would particularly like to express grateful thanks to the residents and staff of Selwyn Village whose support has made this study possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Q. Stafford
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruce A. MacDonald
    • 2
  • Chandimal Jayawardena
    • 3
  • Daniel M. Wegner
    • 4
  • Elizabeth Broadbent
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of ComputingUnitec Institute of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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