Article | Emotion | April 2014

Botsourcing and Outsourcing: Robot, British, Chinese, and German Workers Are for Thinking—Not Feeling—Jobs

by Adam Waytz and Michael I. Norton

Abstract

Technological innovations have produced robots capable of jobs that, until recently, only humans could perform. The present research explores the psychology of "botsourcing"—the replacement of human jobs by robots—while examining how understanding botsourcing can inform the psychology of outsourcing—the replacement of jobs in one country by humans from other countries. We test four related hypotheses across six experiments: (1) Given people's lay theories about the capacities for cognition and emotion for robots and humans, workers will express more discomfort with botsourcing when they consider losing jobs that require emotion versus cognition; (2) people will express more comfort with botsourcing when jobs are framed as requiring cognition versus emotion; (3) people will express more comfort with botsourcing for jobs that do require emotion if robots appear to convey more emotion; and (4) people prefer to outsource cognition-oriented versus emotion-oriented jobs to other humans who are perceived as more versus less robotic. These results have theoretical implications for understanding social cognition about both humans and nonhumans and practical implications for the increasingly botsourced and outsourced economy.

Keywords: Technology; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Emotions; Cognition and Thinking;

Citation:

Waytz, Adam, and Michael I. Norton. "Botsourcing and Outsourcing: Robot, British, Chinese, and German Workers Are for Thinking—Not Feeling—Jobs." Emotion 14, no. 2 (April 2014): 434–444.