How Physical Presence Overrides Emotional (Coping) Effects in HRI:Testing the Transfer of Emotions and Emotional Coping in Interaction with a Humanoid Social Robot

Marloes L.C. Spekman, Elly A. Konijn, Johan F. Hoorn

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


The increasing pressure on healthcare systems calls for innovative solutions, such as social robots. However, healthcare situations often are highly emotional while little is known about how people’s prior emotional state may affect the perception and acceptance of such robots. Following appraisal theories of emotion, the appraisal of coping potential related to one’s emotions was found to be important in acting as mediator between emotional state and perceptions of a robot (Spekman et al. in Comput Hum Behav 85:308–318, 2018.; in Belief in emotional coping ability affects what you see in a robot, not the emotions as such, Dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2018), though this has not yet been tested in relation to actual emotional coping nor in an actual encounter with a robot. Hence, the current study focused on how actual emotional coping influences subsequent robot perceptions in two experiments. In Study 1 (N = 101) and Study 2 (N = 110) participants encountered a real humanoid robot after a manipulation to induce various emotions and coping potential. Manipulations in both studies were effective, yet the results in Study 1 were potentially confounded by a novelty effect of participants’ first encounter with a real robot that talked to them. Therefore, in Study 2, participants interacted briefly with the robot before the actual experiment. Results showed an interaction effect of prior emotions and (manipulated) coping potential on robot perceptions, but not the effects expected based on previous studies. An actual interaction with a robot thus seems to provoke different reactions to the robot, thereby overruling any emotional effects. These findings are discussed in light of the healthcare context in which these social robots might be deployed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Appraisal
  • Coping
  • Emotion
  • Healthcare
  • Social robot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)

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