WHILE MOST PEOPLE would rather see jobs go to humans rather than
to robots, this preference reverses when they consider their own jobs.
In that case, they prefer to be replaced by robots, according to research
by Armin Granulo, a doctoral candidate at the Technical University
of Munich’s School of Management; Christopher Fuchs, a professor
of marketing at TUM School of Management; and Stefano Puntoni,
a professor of marketing at Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School
of Management in the Netherlands.
They found that—in the short run—workers experience less damage
to their sense of self-worth when they’re replaced by robots. But
in the long run, they perceive robotic replacement as more threatening
to their economic situations.
“When technology replaces human workers, it has a unique
psychological effect. People realize that the differences in abilities between
robots and themselves might not be short-lived but permanent,
indicating skill obsolescence,” says Puntoni.
As more occupations are affected by automation, say the researchers,
policymakers need to consider strategies to support workers
who have been displaced by technology, giving particular attention
to reducing the negative effects on mental and physical health. For
instance, the research shows that workers who attribute their job loss
to automation would benefit from resources wholly dedicated to interventions
targeted at upgrading skills and retraining.
“Psychological Reactions to Human Versus Robotic Job Replacement”
was published online August 5, 2019, in the journal Nature