International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 281–297 | Cite as

Older People’s Prior Robot Attitudes Influence Evaluations of a Conversational Robot

  • Rebecca Q. StaffordEmail author
  • Bruce A. MacDonald
  • Xingyan Li
  • Elizabeth Broadbent


As the population ages, healthcare robots may help meet increasing demands for mental and physical health services. However more understanding is required of how to make robots acceptable to older people. This study aimed to assess how older peoples’ robot attitudes and drawings were related to their reactions to a conversational robot. We also assessed whether altering the robot’s virtual face affected peoples’ responses. Twenty participants aged over 55 conversed with a Peoplebot robot for 30 min. During the interaction the robot displayed six different face conditions on its monitor in a randomized order. The six robot conditions varied on two dimensions; (i) facial appearance (humanlike, machinelike, or no face), and (ii) robot gender. Measures included the robot attitudes scale, drawings of a robot’s face prior to the interaction, blood pressure (BP), heart rate, and evaluations of the robot. Results suggest participants did not evaluate the robot’s six face displays conditions differently. However, there was a trend for men to evaluate the robot more highly than women did. Participants’ positive attitudes towards robots before the robot interactions were associated with positive robot evaluations after the interactions. Larger drawings were associated with higher systolic BP after interacting with the robot. These findings suggest that, at least in the short-term, people’s pre-existing mental models of robots may be more important for acceptance than the human or machinelikeness, or even the presence of a robot’s virtual face. More research is needed on gender differences in reactions to eldercare robots. Compared with creating different robot faces to meet individual preferences, promoting positive attitudes towards robots may be a cost-effective method of promoting robot acceptance. Drawings of robots may be a useful, more implicit way of assessing anxiety towards robots in potential users.


Robot Older people Attitudes Technology acceptance models HRI Drawings 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Q. Stafford
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruce A. MacDonald
    • 2
  • Xingyan Li
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Broadbent
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Tru-Test Group Ltd.AucklandNew Zealand

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