Robotic Versus Human Coaches for Active Aging: An Automated Social Presence Perspective

Martina Caic, João Avelino, Dominik Mahr, Gaby Odekerken-Schröder, Alexandre Bernardino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


This empirical study compares elderly people’s social perception of human versus robotic coaches in the context of an active and healthy aging program. In evaluating hedonic and utilitarian value perceptions of exergames (i.e., video games integrating physical activity), we consider elderly people’s judgments of the warmth and competence (i.e., social cognition) of their assigned coach (human vs. robot). The field experiments involve 58 elderly participants in the real-life context. Leveraging a mixed-method approach that combines quantitative and qualitative data, we show that (1) socially assistive robots activate feelings of (automated) social presence (2) human coaches score higher on perceived warmth and competence relative to robotic coaches, and (3) social cognition affects elderly people’s experience (i.e., emotional and cognitive reactions and behavioral intentions) with respect to exergames. These findings can inform future developments and design of social robots and systems for their smoother inclusion into elderly people’s social networks. In particular, we recommend that socially assistive robots take complementary roles (e.g., motivational coach) and assist human caregivers in improving elderly people’s physical and psychosocial well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Pages (from-to)1-16
Publication statusPublished - 10.07.2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Automated social presence
  • Elderly care
  • Exergames
  • Social cognition
  • Socially assistive robots
  • User experience

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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