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Social Robots for Health Psychology: A New Frontier for Improving Human Health and Well-Being

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Morrison, Val 
Cross, Emily S 


The idea of social robots, autonomous machines that interact and communicate with humans or other agents by following social behaviours and rules relevant to their role (Breazeal, 2003), has been prominent in post-modern science ction literature, art, and cinema for decades. In industrial contexts, we are already familiar with robots that are not particularly social but are instead designed for industrial work like moving and assembling materials. However, the depictions of social robots in science ction, communicating with us, acting as our companions, and assisting with our daily lives, have fuelled people’s imagination about the capabilities these machines might have in the future. Accordingly, social robots are gradually but steadily moving from our books and screens and into different social settings such as commerce and services, health care, education, and even people’s households. These robotic agents can take on various forms and shapes and are increasingly being deployed across various health and well-being settings, as their abilities to function autonomously or semi-autonomously in physical and social spaces alongside humans are continually improving (Henschel et al., 2021).



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The European Health Psychologist

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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie to ENTWINE, the European Training Network on Informal Care (Grant agreement no. 814072), the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant agreement no. 677270 to EC), and the Leverhulme Trust (PLP-2018-152 to EC).