Do we take a robot's needs into account? The effect of humanization on pro-social considerations towards other human beings and robots
Number of pages
SourceCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 24, 5, (2021), pp. 332-336
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI CW
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
SubjectCommunication and Media
Robots are becoming an integral part of society, yet the extent to which we are pro-social towards these non-living objects is unclear. While previous research shows that we tend to take care of robots in high-risk, high-consequence situations, this has not been investigated in more day-to-day, low-consequence situations. Thus, we utilized an experimental paradigm (the Social Mindfulness "SoMi" paradigm) that involved a trade-off between participants' own interests and their willingness to take their task partner's needs into account. In two experiments, we investigated whether participants would take the needs of a robotic task partner into account to the same extent as when the task partner was a human (Study I), and whether this was modulated by participant's anthropomorphic attributions to said robot (Study II). In Study I, participants were presented with a social decision-making task which they performed once by themselves (solo context) and once with a task partner (either a human or a robot). Subsequently, in Study II, participants performed the same task but this time with both a human and a robotic task partner. The task partners were introduced via neutral or anthropomorphic priming stories. Results indicate that the effect of humanizing a task partner indeed increases our tendency to take someone else's needs into account in a social decision-making task. However, this effect was only found for a human task partner; not for a robot. Thus, while anthropomorphizing a robot may lead us to save it when it is about to perish, it does not make us more socially considerate of it in day-to-day situations.
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