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Hooray For Hollywood Robots: Movie Machines May Boost Robot Acceptance

Robots appearing in a recent motion picture.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that older adults who recalled more robots shown in films had less anxiety toward robots than those who recalled fewer such robots.

Credit: iStock jpgfactory

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers recently conducted a study in which 379 older adults who recalled more robots portrayed in films had lower anxiety toward robots than seniors who remembered fewer robot portrayals.

Remembering robots from how they are portrayed in films may help ease some of the anxiety older adults have about using a robot, according to the researchers. Finding ways to ease anxiety about robot adoption also could help senior citizens accept robots as caregivers, the researchers add.

"Robots could provide everything from simple reminders--when to take pills, for example--to fetching water and food for people with limited mobility," says PSU professor S. Shyam Sundar.

In addition, the researchers found the trusting effect held up even when older adults recalled robots that were not friendly human-like helper robots. "So, it seems like the more media portrayals they can recall, the more likely their attitudes would be positive toward robots, rather than negative," says PSU researcher T. Franklin Waddell.

The research also found people had a more positive reaction to robots that looked more human-like and those that evoked more sympathy. The researchers suggest robot designers incorporate features that remind older adults of robots in the media, and create robots with more human-like interfaces and models with features that increase sympathy.

From Penn State News
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