There is such a thing as the “IKEA effect,” which, according to one description, suggests that “when individuals construct products themselves, they tend to overvalue their (often mediocre) creations.” The “IKEA effect” highlights the importance of “self-agency”: when you make something yourself, the work it takes to make that thing gives you a richer sense of initiative and ownership. The result is you get a more positive perception of your creation (even if it’s made of particle board).
Now two researchers from Pennsylvania State University’s Media Effects Research Laboratory want to find out if the same thing applies to robots. The researchers, Yuan Sun and S. Shyam Sundar, say previous studies in human-computer interaction have demonstrated that the “self-agency” effect is present in things as basic as customizing the interface of a software application, resulting in “more positive attitudes toward the technology, a heightened sense of control and identity, greater user engagement, and product attachment.” If the same is true of robots, how can we leverage it to make them more acceptable to people? Sun and Sundar did a series of experiments and presented the results at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction in New Zealand earlier this year.