I successfully defended my thesis entitled ‘Living with robots: Investigating the usere acceptance of social robots in domestic environments’ on June 26th. Below is a short summary of the content of my thesis.
Over the most recent decades, the field of social robotics has advanced rapidly. There are a growing number of different types of robots, and their roles within society are expanding. This dissertation has argued that investigating the long-term acceptance of social robots in home environments is necessary for the successful diffusion of these types of robots within society.
The findings of this dissertation indicate that usefulness is a requisite for social robot acceptance and that certain additional important acceptance variables may further explain why people continue to use a social robot in their own homes. These additional acceptance variables show that the acceptance of a social robot for domestic use increases when future users believe that they possess the necessary skills to use a social robot, when they perceive that having such a robot enhances their status, and when they expect that such a robot provides more enjoyable interactions, behaves less sociably, and causes fewer privacy concerns. However, when examining the long-term use of social robots in home environments, it appears that the importance of the acceptance variables in explaining social robot acceptance changes over time, shifting from control beliefs to attitudinal beliefs. It is believed that the importance of the acceptance variables depends on the development stage in which the technology is located (Peters, 2011). When people gain experiences with a social robot, other acceptance variables explain people’s intention to continue using it compared to the acceptance variables that explained their initial adoption.
Concerning human-robot relationships, the studies presented in this dissertation indicate that people are initially reluctant to build a relationship with a robot and deny the possibility that such a relationship will occur for them. However, after people have adopted a social robot and have begun to use it in their own homes, some people acknowledge that they have established some type of relationship with the robot. However, not all people seem to appreciate a robot’s social behavior, and it seems that people remain unfamiliar with the possibilities of human-robot relationships and that the actual use and interactions with social robots reveal what types of relationships people are willing to establish with these robots.
The findings of this dissertation may help both researchers and developers of social robots to further develop an integrated theory or model of social robot acceptance that can describe and explain this acceptance in more real-world contexts, such as the home.
A full PDF version of my thesis can be accessed through our university library.