Will Robots Judge Me? Examining Consumer-Service Robots Interactions in Embarrassing Service Encounters: An Abstract

Valentina Pitardi*, Jochen Wirtz, Stefanie Paluch, Werner Kunz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Service robots are gradually replacing humans service providers in numerous industries and their development is profoundly impacting the way in which service is delivered (Bornet et al. 2021; Wirtz et al. 2018). Accordingly, service robots encounters represent a primary research area in service. To date, researcher and practitioners have applied service robot across various contexts such as medical (Yoon and Lee 2019), hospitality (Tung and Au 2018) and tourism (Murphy et al. 2019), and have focused on the general application and acceptance of the technology (Huang and Rust 2017; van Doorn et al. 2016; Wirtz et al. 2018) and on services that may be executed by or improved by such technologies (Paluch and Blut 2013; Jörling, Bohm, and Paluch 2019). In addition, few studies have analysed service robot interactions in the service and consumer behaviour fields (Longoni et al. 2019), mainly focusing on the consumers’ reactions to specific service robot characteristics such as the level of human-likeness (Castelo et al. 2019; Kim et al. 2019; Mende et al. 2019). These approaches usually try to determine general principles of the service robot delivery, yet not much attention has been given to the particular boundary condition of the service delivery context under which human-robots encounters might be more beneficial than traditional human-to-human encounters. A typical consumption setting where the presence of other individuals can damage the general consumers’ experience is embarrassing service encounters. Consumer embarrassment is a widespread social emotion induced when a transgression is witnessed or perceived to be witnessed by others (Krishna et al. 2019). For embarrassment to be elicited, individuals have to be concerned for what others are perceiving or thinking about them (Dahl et al. 2001), thus embarrassment is dependent on the presence of others. In this study, we suggest that interactions with a service robots in the context of a potentially embarrassing service encounter may reduce consumer embarrassment. We posit that this occurs because of the global attribution of mind to the robots such that consumers do not ascribe intentionality, cognition, and emotion to a service robot, thus ability to socially evaluate one’s purchase or behaviour (Gray et al. 2007). Moreover, we propose to investigate the impact of service robot human-likeness on consumer embarrassment (Mende et al. 2019). The study employs a mixed-method approach. Preliminary findings from the qualitative analysis identifies perceptions of mind and human-likeness appearance as potential factors influencing feelings of embarrassment. Further, findings from a first experimental study show that, in embarrassment service encounters, interaction with service robots decrease feelings of individuals’ consumer embarrassment. Theoretical and managerial contributions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelebrating the Past and Future of Marketing and Discovery with Social Impact
EditorsJuliann Allen, Bruna Jochims, Shuang Wu
Number of pages2
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-95345-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-95346-1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Consumer embarrassment
  • Mind attribution
  • Service robots


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