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Project title: Attitudes toward robots

Primary supervisor: Dr Thomas Webb

Co-supervisor/s: Professor Tony Prescott

Project description: Rapid advancements in technology mean that it is now possible to develop safe and human-friendly robots to assist people in their day-to-day lives. However, a recent survey by Sciencewise (2013) suggests that 61% of people believed that robots should not be allowed to care for children, elderly, and the disabled, believing instead that the primary areas for robotics should be the military and manufacturing. These views are, unfortunately, at odds with the difficulty of providing adequate care for the increasing number of elderly and disabled people. Indeed, by 2060, 30 per cent of the population of Europe will be 65 years of age or over compared to 17 per cent in 2010 (Eurostat, 2010).

The proposed project will deconstruct peoplesí attitudes toward robots by employing a mix of self-report and implicit measures of attitude (e.g., the Implicit Association Test, Greenwald et al., 1995) and by separating cognitive (thoughts) from affective (feelings) components of attitude (see, e.g., Crites et al., 1994). We will also examine how individual differences (e.g., age, gender, culture, familiarity with robots) and features of the robot in question (e.g., appearance, behaviour) influence respondentsí attitudes. Finally, the proposed project will examine the effect of imagined contact (Crisp & Turner, 2009) on attitudes towards robots.

Further reading: Prescott, T. J., et al. (2012, May). Robot Companions For Citizens: Roadmapping the potential for future robots in empowering older people. In: Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development Conference, Prague, Czech Republic.

Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2009). Can imagined interactions produce positive perceptions?: Reducing prejudice through simulated social contact. American Psychologist, 64, 231-240.

Formal enquiries should be addressed to: Dr Thomas Webb (t.webb@sheffield.ac.uk)

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