The University of Massachusetts Lowell is conducting research to understand the impact of AI-powered robots on consumer purchasing behaviors. Associate Professor Mark Yi-Cheon Yim from the Manning School of Business is spearheading a project to determine if robots, such as the Sony aibo, can establish a level of interaction that influences buying decisions.
This research initiative is examining the concept of “embodied rapport,” the bond formed between humans and robots that exhibit lifelike movements. With a $14,700 seed award from the Office of Research and Innovation at UMass Lowell, Professor Yim, alongside colleagues Byung Guk Kim and Yuhosua Ryoo, is exploring how movement in robots can enhance their ability to persuade consumers.
Initial studies conducted online suggest that robots capable of dynamic movement create a stronger sense of vitality, a key factor in developing rapport, as compared to stationary voice-operated devices. The research team is preparing to conduct in-person experiments to test whether this vitality leads to increased trust and willingness to follow product recommendations made by these robots.
The research builds on existing consumer behavior studies indicating a willingness among users of devices like Google Dot or Amazon Alexa to listen to advertisements and follow purchasing advice. The team at UMass Lowell aims to provide concrete evidence on the effectiveness of using social robots as a novel channel for product sales and marketing.
Photo: UMass Lowell