The Influence of Robot Verbal Support on Human Team Members: Encouraging Outgroup Contributions and Suppressing Ingroup Supportive Behavior

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020)
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Abstract

As teams of people increasingly incorporate robot members, it is essential to consider how a robot's actions may influence the team's social dynamics and interactions. In this work, we investigated the effects of verbal support from a robot on human team members' interactions related to psychological safety and inclusion. We conducted a between-subjects experiment where the robot team member either gave verbal support or did not give verbal support to the human team members of a human-robot team comprised of 2 human ingroup members, 1 human outgroup member, and 1 robot. We found that targeted support from the robot had a positive effect on outgroup members, who increased their verbal participation after receiving targeted support from the robot. When comparing groups that did and did not have verbal support from the robot, we found that outgroup members received fewer verbal backchannels from ingroup members if their group had robot verbal support. These results suggest that verbal support from a robot may have some direct benefits to outgroup members but may also reduce the obligation ingroup members feel to support the verbal contributions of outgroup members.

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