The urgent pressure on healthcare increases the need for understanding how new technology such as social robots may offer solutions. Many healthcare situations are emotionally charged, which likely affects people's perceptions of such robots in healthcare contexts. Thus far however, little attention has been paid to how people's prior emotions may influence their perceptions of the robot. Based on emotional appraisal theories and prior research, we assume that particularly emotional coping appraisals would influence healthcare-robot perceptions. Additionally, we tested effects of actual coping through the use of emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies. Hypotheses were tested in a 2 (sad vs. angry) x 2 (hard-to-cope-with vs. easy-to-cope-with) between-subjects experiment, also including a control group. Results (N = 132; age range 18–36) showed that manipulated coping potential indirectly affected perceptions of a healthcare robot via the appraisal of coping potential. Furthermore, positive emotion-focused coping affected perceptions of a healthcare robot positively. Thus, people's healthcare-robot perceptions were affected by how they cope or how they think they can cope with their emotions, rather than by the emotions as such.
- Emotional coping
- Social robots