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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access March 26, 2019

User expectations of privacy in robot assisted therapy

  • Zachary Henkel EMAIL logo , Kenna Baugus , Cindy L. Bethel and David C. May


This article describes ethical issues related to the design and use of social robots in sensitive contexts like psychological interventions and provides insights from one user design study and two controlled experiments with adults and children. User expectations regarding privacy with a therapeutic robotic dog, Therabot, gathered from a 16 participant design study are presented. Furthermore, results from 142 forensic interviews about bullying experiences conducted with children (ages 8 to 17) using three different social robots (Nao, Female RoboKind, Male RoboKind) and humans (female and male) as forensic interviewers are examined to provide insights into child beliefs about privacy and social judgment in sensitive interactions with social robots. The data collected indicates that adult participants felt a therapeutic robotic dog would be most useful for children in comparison to other age groups, and should include privacy safeguards. Data obtained from children after a forensic interview about their bullying experiences shows that they perceive social robots as providing significantly more socially protective factors than adult humans. These findings provide insight into how children perceive social robots and illustrate the need for careful considerationwhen designing social robots that will be used in sensitive contexts with vulnerable users like children.


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Received: 2018-07-31
Accepted: 2019-01-21
Published Online: 2019-03-26

© 2019 Zachary Henkel et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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