Examining attachment to robots: Benefits, challenges, and alternatives


Journal: ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction
Volume: 11

Law, Theresa and Chita-Tegmark, Meia and Rabb, Nicholas,and Scheutz, Matthias

Potential applications of robots in private and public human spaces have prompted the design of so-called “social robots” that can interact with humans in social settings and potentially cause humans to attach to the robots. The focus of this article is an analysis of possible benefits and challenges arising from such human-robot attachment as reported in the HRI literature, followed by guidelines for the use and the design of robots that might elicit attachment bonds. We start by analyzing the potential benefits for humans becoming attached to robots, which might include increased natural interaction, effectiveness and acceptance of the robot, social companionship, and well-being for the human. Turning to the potential risks associated with human-robot attachment, we discuss the possibly suboptimal use of the robot in the most benign cases, but also the potential formation of unidirectional emotional bonds, and the potential for deception and subconscious influence of the robot on the person in more severe cases. The upshot of the analysis then is a recommendation to reconceptualize relationships with social robots in an attempt to retain potential benefits of human-robot attachment, while mitigating (to the extent possible) its downsides.

  title={Examining attachment to robots: Benefits, challenges, and alternatives},
  author={Law, Theresa and Chita-Tegmark, Meia and Rabb, Nicholas,and Scheutz,
  journal={ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction},