Ready for Robot Colleagues? Affective Attitudes and Prejudice Toward Sharing the Work Domain with Robots

Nina Savela

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Robots and artificial intelligence are increasingly utilized for labor in various occupational fields. The interest in designing advanced technological solutions suitable for environments outside of manufacturing has not only shifted to home and leisure activities but also to more interactive robots used at work. Consequently, robots with advanced social and collaboration features are being deployed for work tasks that human workers have previously done. Robots operating closely with the human workforce introduces not only technical challenges but also social and psychological demands for the human workers and people involved. More research is needed to understand people’s expectations and the potential social psychological consequences of introducing new-generation robots at work. these novel challenges, this doctoral dissertation utilizes intergroup threat theory as a theoretical framework and investigates the affective attitudes toward robots at work.

The research articles included in this doctoral dissertation in social psychology utilized experimental, computational, and longitudinal research designs to investigate the affective attitudes toward robots. Article I focused on group identification and was based on two vignette-design experiments examining how people react when organizations introduce robots as members of a work team. Article II used three role-playing experiments to capture reactions toward introducing robot colleagues using sentiment analysis tools for analyzing written text. Article III aimed at understanding the public opinion and discussions on robots in general over time, and thus, comments on robotic technologies were collected from social media and analyzed with sentiment analysis and other lexicon-based computational tools. Article IV was a longitudinal survey study on the Finnish working population and within-person analyses enabled investigating how attitudes toward robots as colleagues or tools at work have developed over time before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results show that people hold some prejudice toward deploying robots at work. This is especially true when robots are introduced as social agents such as colleagues. However, although social media discussions on robotic technologies suggested that people perceive robots less positively for work than for leisure activities, conversations around robots were overall positive in the work context compared to the more negative comments within the home setting. Longitudinal analyses also reveal a slight positive trend on affective attitudes toward robots during the pandemic. The findings show how the attitudes toward deploying robots at work have shifted to a more positive direction during the need for social distancing. Attention should be given to how robots are introduced to human workers and the people involved. Human workers could perceive giving robots social roles, such as one of a team member, as a threat, which can lead to prejudice and negativity toward utilizing robots in the work context.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2445-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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