Robot Or Human? Consumer Responses To Humanoid Robots
Prof. Bernd Schmitt
Robert D. Calkins Professor of International Business
Columbia Business School
Humanoid robots look and act more and more like humans. Consumers can already interact with humanoid robots as salespeople, social companions, and even intimate partners. Soon, these robots may be indistinguishable from human beings. In this presentation, I explore how consumers might respond to these “perfect” robots and how they are likely to shape consumer behavior and consumer society in the coming decades. I introduce the construct of anti-robot speciesism—a tendency to treat robots as fundamentally different from humans, even when humans and robots are indistinguishable from each other in appearance and behavior in consumer relevant settings. Several studies test hypotheses related to anti-robot speciesism. Together, these studies illustrate how speciesism is deeply entrenched in human psychology and likely to shape consumer behavior in the time of perfect humanoid robots.