Robots do not judge: service robots can alleviate embarrassment in service encounters

Jana Holthöwer*, Jenny van Doorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
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Although robots are increasingly used in service provision, research cautions that consumers are reluctant to accept service robots. Five lab, field, and online studies reveal an important boundary condition to earlier work and demonstrate that consumers perceive robots less negatively when human social presence is the source of discomfort. We show that consumers feel less judged by a robot (vs. a human) when having to engage in an embarrassing service encounter, such as when acquiring medication to treat a sexually transmitted disease or being confronted with one’s own mistakes by a frontline employee. As a consequence, consumers prefer being served by a robot instead of a human when having to acquire an embarrassing product, and a robot helps consumers to overcome their reluctance to accept the service provider’s offering when the situation becomes embarrassing. However, robot anthropomorphism moderates the effect as consumers ascribe a higher automated social presence to a highly human-like robot (vs. machine-like robot), making consumers feel more socially judged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-784
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Early online date20-Apr-2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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