Robots are transforming organizations, with pundits forecasting that robots will increasingly perform managerial tasks. One such key managerial task is the evaluation and delivery of feedback regarding an employee's performance, including negative feedback. However, within this context of delivering negative feedback, we suggest that anthropomorphism—a factor most practitioners and researchers consider as a panacea for overcoming difficulties in human-robot interaction—can backfire. Drawing upon the theory of mind perception, we find that an anthropomorphised robot supervisor delivering negative feedback is more likely than a non-anthropomorphised robot to be perceived as possessing agency. This perceived agency causes perceptions of abuse to arise, which in turn leads to higher supervisor-directed retaliation (operationalized as powering down the robot supervisor; Study 1). These findings even extend to third-person observers witnessing the delivery of negative feedback, again culminating in supervisor-directed retaliation (Study 2). We conclude by discussing the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research is supported by a Singapore Ministry of Education Tier 1 Grant ( R-317-000-164-115 ) awarded to the first author.
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.
- Mind perception
- Negative feedback