Check-in at the Robo-desk: Effects of automated social presence on social cognition and service implications

Vignesh Yoganathan, Victoria Sophie Osburg, Werner H. Kunz*, Waldemar Toporowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rise of humanoid robots in hospitality services accelerates the need to understand related consumer reactions. Four scenario-based experiments, building on social presence and social cognition theories, examine how humanoid robots (vs. self-service machines) shape consumer service perceptions vis-à-vis concurrent presence/absence of human staff. The influence of consumers' need for human interaction and technology readiness is also examined. We find that anthropomorphizing service robots positively affects expected service quality, first-visit intention, willingness to pay, as well as increasing warmth/competence inferences. However, these effects are contingent on the absence of human frontline staff, explained by viewing anthropomorphism as a relative concept. Humanoid robots increase psychological risk, but this poses no threat to expected service quality when consumers' need for human interaction is controlled for. Additionally, we show that a humanoid robot's effect on expected service quality is positive for all but low technology readiness levels. Further implications for theory/practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104309
Number of pages16
JournalTourism Management
Early online date12 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Service robots
  • Social cognition
  • Social presence
  • Technology readiness


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