Ethical Perceptions Influence Acceptance of Care Robots, Say University Researchers


  • Researchers unveil universal model linking ethical perceptions to care robot acceptance.
  • Rising elderly population prompts demand for care robots, hindered by ethical concerns.
  • Cross-cultural study shows Japan leads in care robot willingness; privacy and participation key factors.

International researchers have introduced a model that explains the connection between users’ ethical perceptions and their willingness to adopt care robots. With the global elderly population on the rise, the demand for caregiving is increasing. While care robots offer a potential solution, their adoption has been slow due to ethical concerns. The researchers aimed to establish a universal model applicable across various cultural contexts that could shed light on how ethical perceptions influence the adoption of care robots.

Addressing care challenges with robots

The worldwide surge in the aging population has intensified the need for caregiving. Despite the potential for care robots to assist caregivers, their implementation has been lackluster and less than satisfactory. To address this issue, a collaborative group of researchers from diverse backgrounds embarked on a quest to comprehend the influence of ethical perspectives on the acceptance of care robots.

Creating a universal model for ethical perception

Dr. Sayuri Suwa, the lead author of the study and a professor at Chiba University in Japan, recognized the need for discussions among stakeholders—such as the elderly, family caregivers, care staff, and developers—regarding the use of care robots, privacy protection, and proper handling of personal information linked to these robots. The research team aimed to bridge this gap by constructing a comprehensive, universally applied model, transcends cultural barriers.

Cultural context and ethical concerns

In countries like Japan, which are experiencing aging populations and declining birth rates, the potential shortage of caregivers hasn’t triggered a significant surge in the development and deployment of home care robots. The researchers hypothesized that ethical considerations might impede such technologies’ integration.

While previous models have established a link between ethical perceptions and the willingness to adopt care robots, they lacked universal applicability across various cultural landscapes. The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study across Japan, Ireland, and Finland to address this.

Research methodology and findings

The researchers designed a questionnaire that probed the ethical aspects influencing the willingness to embrace care robots in the three countries. The survey, conducted between November 2018 and February 2019, targeted elderly individuals, family caregivers, and professional caregivers. The study’s methodology adhered to ethical guidelines, undergoing reviews by multiple ethical committees in all three countries.

The analysis encompassed 1,132 responses from Japan, Ireland, and Finland. The study revealed that Japan exhibited the highest willingness to adopt care robots (77.1%), followed by Ireland (70.3%), with Finland showing the lowest willingness (52.8%).

Privacy and participation as key factors

Among the top concerns expressed by participants were data privacy and the ability to provide feedback. The researchers identified four key domains related to ethical perceptions: acquisition of personal information, use of personal information for medical and long-term care, secondary use, and participation in research and development.

The researchers utilized Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) for model selection and refinement to create a comprehensive model. The result was a model capable of explaining the relationship between ethical perceptions and the social integration of care robots across the three diverse countries.

Promoting social implementation

The study’s findings suggest that developers and researchers can encourage potential users to participate in the development process using a co-design and co-production approach. By involving users in creating care robots, the process can be refined to align with ethical considerations and enhance human well-being in an aging global society.

As the global elderly population increases, the demand for caregiving solutions grows. Care robots offer a promising avenue to address this need, yet ethical concerns have hampered their adoption. The innovative research conducted by an international team of scholars has resulted in a universal model that clarifies the intricate interplay between ethical perceptions and the acceptance of care robots. This breakthrough paves the way for a more comprehensive understanding of the role of ethics in shaping the future of caregiving technology.

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Glory Kaburu

Written by Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.