"Would You be Friends with a Robot?”: The Impact of Perceived Autonomy and Perceived Risk

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Jérôme Dinet

Abstract: This paper is aiming to investigate the impact of perceived autonomy and perceived risk on attitudes and opinion about two assistive robots (Paro© and Asimo©), as factors explaining the probability to become “friend” with a robot. The worldwide population of elderly people is growing rapidly and in the coming decades the proportion of older people in the developed countries will change significantly. This demographic shift will create a huge increase in demand for domestic and health-care robotics systems. But the spread of robots in everyday life particularly for purposes of healthcare already gives rise to questions about acceptability, moral and legal responsibility. A robotics system can be powerful and useful, there is not a reason why this system is usable and/or desirable and in fine, accepted. It is still unclear how well these new “faux-people” will be accepted by society, for they raise fundamental questions about what it means to be human, especially at home or in nursing house.METHOD. In a large online survey conducted in France, 2 783 participants (936 adolescents with a mean-age of 12.2 years; 1077 adults with a mean-age of 33.4 years; and 770 seniors with a mean-age of 71.3 years) were asked to complete three questionnaires: (1) The DOSPERT scale (for Domain-Specific Risk-Taking; Blais & Weber, 2006) to assess risk attitude and perception of risks for our participants; (2) The revised version of the FQUA-R scale (for Friendship Quality- Revised; Thien, Razak & Jamil, 2012) to assess close relationships and potential friendship with a robot; (3) The PAS (for Perception of Autonomy Scale; Lombard & Dinet, 2015) to assess positive and negative attitudes towards autonomy of robots. Each participant was asked to complete the three questionnaires twice: before and after viewing two videos showing two assistive robots (Paro© and Asimo©) interacting with human people: In one of the videos, a young woman interacts with the robotic baby-seal Paro©, and gives many explanations about the interests for elderly people (“Paro© gives kindness”, “its allows to create an attachment”). Moreover, we can see an elderly woman who caresses Paro©. In the other video, several physical characteristics of Asimo© are presented (size, weight) and the robot performs several tasks by interacting with a young woman (Asimo© walks, runs, plays football, opens a bottle, serves a glass, etc.).RESULTS AND DISCUSSION. For the two robots, structural equation modelling was used to determine the relationships between all the variables. Results have mainly showed that (i) Perceived risk is mainly and significantly explained by attitudes about risks in health and social domains whatever the gender and the age, and (ii) Perceived autonomy has a direct and positive effect on Friendship quality. In other words, our results tend to confirm that our three factors (perceived risk, perceived autonomy and friendship) are strongly interrelated and should be integrated in studies investigating the acceptability of assistive robots, and confirm that these three factors have different impact according to the physical appearance of the robot (human-like for Asimo© or animal-like shape for Paro©). Industrial and theoretical perspectives are discussed.

Keywords: Assistive robotics system, Acceptability, Life-span approach

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002306

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