Understanding Cultural Preferences for Social Robots: A Study in German and Arab Communities

Published: 2021
ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction, 10(2):12:1-12:19


This article presents a study of cultural differences affecting the acceptance and design preferences of social robots. Based on a survey with 794 participants from Germany and the three Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, we discuss how culture influences the preferences for certain attributes. We look at social roles, abilities and appearance, emotional awareness and interactivity of social robots, as well as the attitude toward automation. Preferences were found to differ not only across cultures, but also within countries with similar cultural backgrounds. Our findings also show a nuanced picture of the impact of previously identified culturally variable factors, such as attitudes toward traditions and innovations. While the participants’ perspectives toward traditions and innovations varied, these factors did not fully account for the cultural variations in their perceptions of social robots. In conclusion, we believe that more real-life practices emerging from the situated use of robots should be investigated. Besides focusing on the impact of broader cultural values such as those associated with religion and traditions, future studies should examine how users interact, or avoid interaction, with robots within specific contexts of use.