Shabnam FakhrHosseini Presents on Social Robots at IEEE International Conference

by Adam Felts

AgeLab Postdoctoral Associate Shabnam FakhrHosseini presented research findings on attitudes toward social robots at the 29th IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication.

Dr. FakhrHosseini utilized findings from the AgeLab’s Lifestyle Leaders panel, a research panel of adults ages 85 and older. Prior research related to acceptance of social robots has tended to underrepresent this “oldest old” age group. The conference paper leveraged responses that panelists provided to an online survey as well as from in-person focus groups about social robots as companion.

Findings from the survey showed that participants’ technology literacy was not correlated with acceptance of a robot as a companion. But following seeing a social robot during a presentation, the panelists showed variations in attitudes related to their technological comfort in the focus group discussions, which were split between early, middle-of-the-road, and late technological adopters. Although discussions varied to some extent in each group, early adopters and middle-of-the-road technology adopters were more open to accepting a social robot companion than late adopters.

In the focus group discussions, some panelists expressed concerns about reliance on social robots undermining human independence – both their own independence as older adults as well as society at large. One Lifestyle Leader said, “We may lose more functions by depending on [a] robot. I am worried about my 10-year old granddaughter, who is asking Alexa all the time, instead of doing or exploring on her own.”  But a panelist in the early adopter group also expressed optimism about such technologies: “I lost my independence due to my old age. I cannot walk very much. I cannot drive. I cannot ride bicycles. I cannot do so many things. This new technology will help me appreciate life more fully.”

  • Share
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Get Involved

Interested in this area of study? See how you can participate in AgeLab research or become a volunteer.

GET INVOLVED TODAY

About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. He conducts research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

More From the Blog

2020 OMEGA Summit Brings Together Students, Aging Professionals, Past Scholarship Winners

October 30, 2020

2020 Summer Interns Work on OMEGA, Lifestyle Leaders, C3 Project

August 26, 2020

2021 Spring Speaker Series Begins with Presentation from Dr. Catherine García on Social Determinants of Health

March 23, 2021