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Washington State University has discovered that people prefer dealing with robots with female qualities instead of male ones. The respondents revealed that they preferred having such robots in customer service positions.

These findings are relevant as the world becomes more automated. Scientists believe that in a few years, more businesses will rely primarily on artificial intelligence and automated services for their operations.

Many businesses now have trouble keeping employees. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened this situation. Businesses that could afford to adapt to the changing circumstances replaced their human staff with robots. These robots managed to do various tasks, including greeting guests and flipping burgers.

According to the University’s assistant professor in hospitality management, Soobin Seo, the current gender stereotypes about service times make many people more comfortable with dealing with a woman in such a position. This preference has transferred to robots who have the characteristics of women.

How researchers conducted the study 

The researchers gathered 170 volunteers and exposed them to four scenarios where a service robot served them in a hotel. The first situation involved a female robot with female features named Sarah, while the second involved a male one named Alex. These two robots had human features,

For the third and fourth scenarios, the researchers used robots with no human features that were either male or female. The team then asked the respondents to rate their experience with the robots.

While they preferred interacting with the human-like robots over the non-human ones, they showed an even stronger preference for Sara.

Hiring robots might not always be ideal 

While the researchers believe that automation could soon be widespread in the hospitality industry, they expressed their misgivings. Researchers noted that it could be challenging if a robot broke down in a hotel that only hired robots. Moreover, a customer might feel more at ease discussing a personal problem with a human.

Researchers now want to investigate how people would react to robots with different personalities. This could be a robot that is quiet and introverted or talkative and extroverted. SEO explains that it is crucial to understand how humans interact with robots as there could be more automation in the hospitality industry.