Developing social robots for aging populations: A literature review of recent academic sources

Publication Title
Sociology Compass
Publication/Creation Date
April 26 2018
Ontario Tech University (contributor)
Isabel Pedersen (creator)
Samantha Reid (creator)
Kristen Aspevig (creator)
Catalia Health (contributor)
PARO Robots U.S., Inc. (contributor)
SoftBank Robotics (contributor)
Media Type
Journal Article
Persuasive Intent

The perception of aging populations is a major factor driving the social robot development movement. A growing body of research reflects the expanding interest in social robots. This paper synthesizes research on the development of social robots with a literature review of academic articles with publication dates ranging from 2006 to 2017. The review is divided into three themes: (a) robots as an aid in treatment; (b) robots as social assistants and home companions; and (c) robots as custodial caregivers that are viewed in terms of ethical implications. This paper outlines the issues surrounding social, commitment, assistive, and companion robots for use in medical treatment, mental health therapy, physiotherapy, care facilities, and private homes. It describes some of the ethical concerns raised by researchers and media, including questions of control, privacy, consent, and the issue of simulated versus human compassion in caregiving. The research also points out that a rhetoric of urgency concerning aging populations drives the development of robots, which frames citizens who will benefit from robots in reductive ways. We argue that the contribution of humanities and social science research, including age studies and critical gerontology, should be better integrated with discourses of social robot development, largely from technical fields.
HCI Platform
Location on Body
Entire Body
Marketing Keywords
Mabu, Pepper, PARO, Matilda, TechTech

Date archived
August 27 2018
Last edited
June 14 2019
How to cite this entry
Isabel Pedersen, Samantha Reid, Kristen Aspevig. (April 26 2018). "Developing social robots for aging populations: A literature review of recent academic sources". Sociology Compass. Sociology Compass. Fabric of Digital Life.