Acceptance of Social Robots by Elder People: Does Psychosocial Functioning Matter?
This study aims at investigating the relevance of psychosocial functioning for the acceptance of social robots by elder people in the context of everyday functioning. It was assumed that the level of psychosocial functioning either hinders or promotes robot acceptance, depending on the fit between elder people’s level of everyday functioning and the demands imposed by the robot (user–technology fit). To investigate this assumption, two social robots imposing different demands on the user, i.e., the easy-to-handle therapeutic robot Paro (low demands) and the less intuitive telepresence robot Giraff (high demands), were introduced successively to \(N=29\) cognitively and physically healthy elder people. To implement different levels of user–technology fit, participants rated their intention to use each robot for both a scenario of high and a scenario of low everyday functioning. Psychosocial functioning was assessed with emotional loneliness, depressive mood and life satisfaction as indicators of psychological well-being, and social support as indicator of social resources. Results show that lower social support was associated with higher acceptance of the less intuitive robot Giraff in the high everyday functioning scenario (adequate user–technology fit). In the low everyday functioning scenario (poor fit), however, lower psychological well-being was associated with lower acceptance of Giraff. For the rather intuitive robot Paro (adequate user–technology fit regardless of the level of everyday functioning), lower life satisfaction was associated with lower acceptance in both everyday functioning scenarios. The findings show the importance of psychosocial variables for the acceptance of social robots by elder people and underline the relevance of the fit between user and technology. Moreover, they suggest a more intense consideration of complex psychological mechanisms and individual user characteristics in research on robot acceptance by elder people.
KeywordsCompanion-type robots Telepresence systems Robot acceptance User–technology fit Everyday functioning Psychosocial functioning
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This research was funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), Project-No. 16SV6185.
Research Involving Humans
The study was approved by the local Ethics Committee and was conducted in line with the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association and the German Association of Psychology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie e.V., DGPs). Informed consent was obtained from all participants.
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