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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

Exploring consumer-service robots interactions in embarrassing service encounters.

Published: May 25, 2021


Valentina Pitardi, Portsmouth Business School; Jochen Wirtz, NUS Business School/National University of Singapore; Stefanie Paluch, RWTH Aachen University; Werner Kunz, University of Massachusetts Boston


Service robots (SR) are becoming increasingly employed in the marketplace, as such, consumers- SR encounters represent a primary research area in shopper marketing. While the majority of studies on this topic have focused on the negative reponses triggered by consumers-SR interactions, little is known on particular service delivery contexts under which human-SR encounters might be more beneficial than traditional human-to-human encounters. This research aims to fill this gap and it examines whether the interaction with a SR in the context of a potentially embarrassing service encounter may attenuate consumers’ anticipated embarrassment. We argue that this occurs because of the global attribution of mind to the robots. Moreover, we propose to investigate the influence of SR human-likeness appearance on this effect. The study employes a mixed-method approach. Preliminary findings from the qualitative analysis identifyes perceptios of mind and humanlikeness appearance as potential factors influencing feelings of embarrassment. Further, results from a first experimental study show that interaction with SR attenuate consumer embarrassment. Keywords: service robots, consumer embarrassment, mind attribution Track: Services Marketing