Employees less upset at being replaced by robots than by people

The study assesses the psychological impact of job losses through technology.


Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are increasingly enabling organizations to replace humans with intelligent machines and algorithms.

Forecasts predict that, in the coming years, these innovations will influence millions of workers in a full scope of occupations, supplanting human workers in various errands yet possibly likewise in entire occupations.

To discover, business scientists at TUM and Erasmus University Rotterdam tested different situations with more than 2,000 people from several countries in Europe and North America in 11 primarily experimental studies.

The investigation appears: on a basic level, the vast majority see it positively when laborers are supplanted by other individuals rather than their work being gone over to robots or intelligent software. However, This inclination is reversed when individuals’ work is included.

At the point when that is the situation, most workers find it less upsetting to see their own jobs go to robots than to human replacements. In the long haul, be that as it may, the same people see machines to be all the more threatening to their future role in the workforce. These impacts are additionally obvious in individuals who have, as of late, turned out to be jobless.

The analysts had the option to distinguish the causes behind these paradoxical outcomes, as well: People will in general, contrast themselves less with machines than with other individuals.

Subsequently, being replaced by a robot or software is less of a threat to their sentiment of self-esteem. This impact was obvious notwithstanding when the test subjects accepted that they were being supplanted by partners able to utilize artificial intelligence in their work.

Christoph Fuchs, a professor of the TUM School of Management, and one of the authors of the study, said, “Even when unemployment results from the introduction of new technologies, people still judge it in a social context. It is important to understand these psychological effects when trying to manage the massive changes in the working world to minimize societal disruptions.”

“For example, the insights could help to design better programs for the unemployed. For people who have lost their job to a robot, boosting their self-esteem will be less of a priority. In that case, it is more important to teach them new skills that will reduce their concerns about losing out to robots in the long term.”

“The study could also serve as a starting point for further research on other economic topics. It is conceivable that employee representatives’ responses to job losses attributed to automation will tend to be weaker than when other causes are involved, for example, outsourcing.”

The study is published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.