The Impact of the Uncanny Valley on Consumer Behavior: How Mind Attribution of Humanoid Robots Impacts Product Evaluations

Rebecca Braun & Johannes Simon Dickmann

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Interactions between consumers and humanoid robots might soon become commonplace. Consumer acceptance drives the use and ultimate success of this technology. A major part of literature on the acceptance of humanoid robots has been guided by the uncanny valley hypothesis. This theory describes that humanoid robots which imperfectly resemble humans provoke feelings of eeriness in observers. A possible explanation that recently gained attention is that the uncanny valley results from people’s perception of a human mind in a machine. Prior research has shown that these feelings of eeriness can elicit compensatory consumer behavior related to status-signaling products as well as healthy and unhealthy food products. This thesis seeks to further investigate the impact of the uncanny valley on consumer behavior by focusing on how mind attribution of humanoid robots impacts product evaluations. For this purpose, an online survey experiment was conducted. This paper was not able to measure a significant impact of mind attribution of humanoid robots on product evaluations. However, this research found that, contrary to expectations, participants responded to perceived eeriness of the stimuli with a decrease in liking of status-signaling products. Overall, this study highlights the complex nature of the uncanny valley and draws attention towards a more nuanced understanding of the impact of the uncanny valley on consumer behavior

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages116
SupervisorsJesper Clement