Alessio Galatolo, Gaspar I. Melsión, Iolanda Leite and Katie Winkle

International Journal of Social Robotics (2022)

Recent works have identified both risks and opportunities afforded by robot gendering. Specifically, robot gendering risks the propagation of harmful gender stereotypes, but may positively influence robot acceptance/impact, and/or actually offer a vehicle with which to educate about and challenge traditional gender stereotypes. Our work sits at the intersection of these ideas, to explore whether robot gendering might impact robot credibility and persuasiveness specifically when that robot is being used to try and dispel gender stereotypes and change interactant attitudes. Whilst we demonstrate no universal impact of robot gendering on first impressions of the robot, we demonstrate complex interactions between robot gendering, interactant gender and observer gender which emerge when the robot engages in challenging gender stereotypes. Combined with previous work, our results paint a mixed picture regarding how best to utilise robot gendering when challenging gender stereotypes this way. Specifically, whilst we find some potential evidence in favour of utilising male presenting robots for maximum impact in this context, we question whether this actually reflects the kind of gender biases we actually set out to challenge with this work.

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