Robots can save people from embarrassment.

In awkward situations, it is easier for a person to interact with machines that do not know how to evaluate and show emotions.

Having to interact with another person when purchasing certain items or consulting a doctor can make some people feel embarrassed. These consumers and patients are worried about what people think of them and may refuse to make a purchase or visit a clinic. Hiring robots as consultants can solve this problem, but this approach is burdened with two critical questions: will machines replace people and will personal data be safe? Will buying a robot to serve a human be something reprehensible, or is hiring robots our new reality?

A group of scientists from the UK, Singapore, Germany and the United States conducted a survey to find out in what situations during the service people felt uncomfortable and how they dealt with the feeling of embarrassment. The researchers first interviewed 40 people between the ages of 20 and 82. Among other things, respondents were asked to imagine that instead of a human, they would have to interact with a robot. Participants in the survey described how contact with a car could change their experience. Subjects who had already had to "communicate" with automated service devices needed to be explained how this determined their degree of embarrassment.

It turned out that in such situations the respondents felt more confident. According to the respondents, robots do not show emotions and do not know what is socially acceptable and what is not. People were more comfortable if they were treated indifferently in awkward situations. In addition, subjects were attracted by anonymity and confidentiality when interacting with the machine.

“I don’t need to justify my behavior in front of the car. With a person, you always have to explain, - said the 29-year-old startup owner.

- It doesn't matter to the robot what I buy or what I did. He will not blame me for this and will not point the finger at me, - said the 82-year-old woman retired.

“The robots will be less interested in me, my history and where I got the sexually transmitted disease from. They ... won't bother you, ”the 22-year-old dental assistant admitted.

- The robot does not know who it is talking to. So I feel quite comfortable and I think my privacy is pretty well protected, ”says a nurse in her 30s.

Ease of communication and empathy
As part of the study, the scientists conducted two experiments. The first trial involved 166 people. The respondents were asked to imagine that they made an appointment at the clinic and should tell the administrator about their condition. Some of the participants imagined that they suffered from hemorrhoids (experienced a high level of embarrassment), and some - gastritis (a low level of embarrassment). Half of the subjects who allegedly suffered from hemorrhoids had to think that they were communicating with a person, and another half with a robot. It found that people felt less embarrassed when they interacted with the machine.

Participants in the second experiment - there were 121 of them - were asked to imagine that after visiting a doctor, they should buy a remedy for genital fungus from the pharmacy. People were again divided into two groups: some of the respondents imagined that they were communicating with a living pharmacist, and some with a robot. Scientists assessed the level of embarrassment of the subjects, and also asked them if the robots were capable of displaying emotions or making judgments. Participants in the study were convinced that machines are not capable of either one or the other. This also contributed to a decrease in embarrassment, scientists suggest. The inability of robots to judge human behavior allows them to be used in potentially awkward situations, said one of the authors of the study, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth, Valentina Pitardi.

To confirm the reliability of the results obtained, scientists propose to conduct several more experiments. So, you can
ask people who are not good at wines to consult with a sommelier. Another scenario is to buy a bottle of wine on a tight budget. In this case, it is desirable that the experiment was not imaginary, but carried out in the field. Assistant robots become indispensable in such situations.

Some people, as Olga Gulchuk assures, tend to fantasize that others can talk about them. When buying, they can "read" some emotion on the face of the seller of the goods and regard it as condemnation or reproach. “The robot does not have these emotions, the person knows that he will not judge him. And if he later meets this robot again, then nothing will happen. If he meets a doctor or salesperson he knows, he might think: “He knows this about me,” "the expert emphasizes.

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