A relatively new technology is the use of social robots to teach specific skills that can reduce psychological and behavioral problems. The adoption of such treatments depends heavily on whether people find them acceptable and a reasonable approach to clinical problems. In this study, we had parents evaluate 3 strategies to treat disruptive behavioral problems in children. Our primary interest was seeing the extent to which parents would see robots as an acceptable form of treatment. Three treatment conditions were compared. The first strategy was a cognitively based treatment administered through a robot; the second was the same treatment administered through the Internet. A third condition was no treatment at all but seeing if parents viewed the other treatments as better than just waiting and seeing if the child grows out of the problem. In fact, most children experiencing psychological problems do not receive any treatment, so waiting and seeing if the child gets better is a common practice. Parents evaluated the treatments after learning how the treatments were applied to children with behavioral problems commonly seen in psychological services. The results indicated that social robots were very acceptable as a form of treatment for children. The more familiar use of technology through the Internet was viewed as more acceptable than the use of robotics. Both treatments were seen as more acceptable than waiting for the child to get better. The authors concluded that the results in this study suggest that robot-assisted therapy is viewed positively by the public and that it merits more attention as a treatment platform for mental health problems.
Rabbit, Sarah M., Kazdin, Alan E., and Hong, Joanna H. (2015). Acceptability of Robot-Assisted Therapy for Disruptive Behavior Problems in Children. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 3, 101-110.