Academic journal article College Student Journal

Humanoid Robots: Acceptance for Personal and Family Use

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Humanoid Robots: Acceptance for Personal and Family Use

Article excerpt

Alexa on Amazon Echo and Siri on our cell phones remind us that we interact with robots every day. A robot may be defined as a machine with sensing, thinking, and acting capabilities. Robots can be categorized according to their mobility such as stationary, wheeled, legged, etc or grouped according to their application such as domestic/household, industrial, exploratory, military, surgical, rehabilitation, entertainment and service. Countries such as Japan, Italy, France and the U.S. have begun to explore the use of robots as personal assistants/companions for the elderly and the disabled (Bogue, 2013; Dario et al., 1999a; Dario et al., 1999b; Guizzo, 2010; Guttler et al., 2015). The term humanoid robot is defined as a robot with humanlike features. Having human-like features often increases the acceptability of a robot by human users.

The term "personal robots" is used to describe robots that serve as personal assistants to the user and may reside with the user and their families. The worldwide number of domestic household robots is estimated to rise to 31 million by year 2019 (International Federation of Robotics, 2016). More recently, robots are being marketed as emotional and social companions. How college students feel about the use of robots in their lives and in their families was the focus of this research.

Just as pets are considered as family members for some people, David Levy (2007) predicted that human-robot relations will also evolve. The U.S. Census Bureau defines a family as "a group of two or more people who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together" (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). However, could a personal robot be considered "family" if they live with the family, perform domestic tasks (e.g. laundry), nurture children (e.g. read bedtime stories) and take care of aging parents (e.g. cook for/feed/be a companion)? To what degree are robots accepted/regarded as members of the family? To what degree is it possible to have a meaningful emotional relationship with a robot? Research confirms that the use of robots in families is already occurring, that humans have the social "need to belong" and can have an emotional relationship/bond with socially interactive robots (de Graaf, 2016; de Graaf et al, 2015).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to identify undergraduate social psychological characteristics (sex, race, religion, etc.) associated with the acceptance of robots for use by individuals and in the family.


Three hundred and forty-five respondents from introductory sociology classes completed a 34-item Internet survey. The majority of the respondents were female (81%), White (70%), and heterosexual (90%). Almost three-fourths (72%) were either first or second year undergraduates. The data were analyzed by SPSS (version 24) statistical software.

In addition to demographical information, participants were asked to rate their acceptance of humanoid robots using a 5-point likert type scale on various issues such as " I am open to the idea of having a humanoid robot as a personal companion at home" and " I think an elderly person who is lonely could benefit from having a humanoid robots as a companion."


Overall, the use of humanoid robots in the home received limited support. An exception was approval for using robots as a source of companionship for the elderly. Over half (52%) of the respondents "strongly agreed" or

"agreed" that the lonely elderly could benefit from robotic companionship. Only 20% of the respondents "strongly disagreed" or "disagreed" that the lonely elderly could benefit from robots.

Acceptance of a humanoid robot in one's own living space was more limited with over half (54%) of these participants being against the idea. Hence, robots were viewed as beneficial for sitting on the couch of the lonely elderly, but would not be allowed in the dorm room or apartment of the college student respondents. …

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