Many of workers would rather be replaced by a robot than another human

(2 minutes to read)

Professor Puntoni: “This is the first paper to explore the unique psychological correlates of technological unemployment. As more and more occupations are affected by automation, this is an increasingly important topic.”

Latest research has revealed that while people generally prefer to see jobs go to people rather than to robots, this preference reverses when they consider their own jobs.

A recent article published in Nature Human Behaviour, co-authored by Armin Granulo and former RSM faculty Christoph Fuchs, found that people experience more negative feelings when they are replaced by another person than when they are replaced by a robot. This creates a psychological incentive for people to prefer being replaced by robots.

However, while comparing one’s abilities to a robot may be less of a concern to people’s self-worth in the short run, robotic replacement is perceived as more threatening to people’s economic situation in the long run.

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Professor Puntoni explained, “This is the first paper to explore the unique psychological correlates of technological unemployment. As more and more occupations are affected by automation, this is an increasingly important topic. Interestingly, when technology replaces human workers, it has a unique psychological effect. People realise that the differences in abilities between robots and themselves might not be short-lived but permanent, indicating skill obsolescence.

“We hope that, particularly in times when policymakers are discussing strategies intended to support workers who have been displaced by technology, our work encourages more research on the psychological consequences of technological unemployment before technological progress disrupts specific jobs and occupations.”

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