When you assemble your robot, it is more appealing

S. Shyam Sundar
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New York– A study, involving an Indian-origin researcher, has found that if people construct their robot themselves, they tend to get a more positive perception of their creation.

S. Shyam Sundar and Yuan Sun from the Pennsylvania State University set out to find out whether the “IKEA effect” — which means when individuals construct products themselves, they tend to overvalue their creations — could be applied to robots as well.

S. Shyam Sundar
S. Shyam Sundar

The researchers recruited 80 undergraduates to participate in a robot assembly study. The goal was to determine how their perception of the robot changed depending on what they were told about the robot in advance, and how much they participated in the assembly of the robot.

One group of study participants were given a robot that they had to equip with a battery, plug into a computer, and run through a simple software setup process, while the other group watched an experimenter go through the same steps.

After setup, both groups got to interact with the robot for five to 10 minutes. Afterwards, all the undergraduates filled out a survey full of questions about sense of ownership, sense of accomplishment, and how they felt about the setup process.

The results, presented recently at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction in New Zealand, showed that robot users held higher sense of self-agency when they set up a robot by themselves, which generated more positive evaluations to the robot and the interaction process.

As with self-assembling furniture and self-designing products, building a robot also seem to have generated a positive “I designed it myself” effect, according to the researchers.

The study suggested that even if you could sell your robot as fully assembled and ready to go right out of the box, people would like your robot better (and think that it is a better robot) if you let them participate in the setup process, and perhaps let them do a little bit of simple customisation.


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