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

Caic M., Avelino J., Mahr D., Odekerken G., Odekerken-Schroder G., Bernardino A.

International Journal of Social Robotics


This empirical study compares elderly people’s social perception of human versus robotic coaches in the context of an active and healthy ageing program. In evaluating hedonic and utilitarian value perceptions of exergames (i.e., video games integrating physical activity), we consider elderly people’s judgments of warmth and competence (i.e., social cognition) of their assigned coach (human vs. robot). Our field experiments involve 58 elderly participants in the real-life context. Leveraging a mixed-method approach, combining quantitative and qualitative data, we show that i) socially assistive robots activate feelings of (automated) social presence in the elderly; ii) human coaches score higher on perceived warmth and competence relative to robotic coaches; iii) social cognition impacts elderly people’s