Ethical Asymmetry Perception in HRI

Host Faculty: Science
General Subject Area: psychology, human-robot interaction, ethics
Project Level: PhD
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Humans treat robots as social actors and they apply similar ethical standards to robots. Not only do robot need to act ethical, but also humans should treat the robot in an morally acceptable way. Abusive behaviour towards robots is judged to be as immoral as abusive behaviour towards humans (Bartneck & Keijsers, 2020). Sparrow (2020), however, pointed out that there might be an asymmetry when considering positive behaviour towards robots. People might not consider positive behaviour towards and of the robot as praiseworthy as they condemn negative behaviour towards them and of them.

The goal of this study is empirical test whether there is a moral asymmetry in the treatment of robots. We will conduct an experiment in which participants will have to evaluate the praiseworthiness and disapproval of behaviours exhibited by either a human or a robot.

For this purpose we will use a new stimuli set originally proposed by (Fuhrman, Bodenhausen, & Lichtenstein, 1989) and modified by Effron, D.A. (2020), The moral repetition effect: Bad deeds – but not good deeds – seem more ethical when repeatedly encountered. This will allow us to test a wide variety of behaviours.


Supervisor: Christoph Bartneck

Key qualifications and skills


Does the project come with funding

No - student must be self-funded

Final date for receiving applications



hri, robot, ethics, abuse