When AI meets PC: exploring the implications of workplace social robots and a human-robot psychological contract

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35 Citations (Scopus)


The psychological contract refers to the implicit and subjective beliefs regarding a reciprocal exchange agreement, predominantly examined between employees and employers. While contemporary contract research is investigating a wider range of exchanges employees may hold, such as with team members and clients, it remains silent on a rapidly emerging form of workplace relationship: employees’ increasing engagement with technically, socially, and emotionally sophisticated forms of artificially intelligent (AI) technologies. In this paper we examine social robots (also termed humanoid robots) as likely future psychological contract partners for human employees, given these entities transform notions of workplace technology from being a tool to being an active partner. We first overview the increasing role of robots in the workplace, particularly through the advent of sociable AI, and synthesize the literature on human–robot interaction. We then develop an account of a human-social robot psychological contract and zoom in on the implications of this exchange for the enactment of reciprocity. Given the future-focused nature of our work we utilize a thought experiment, a commonly used form of conceptual and mental model reasoning, to expand on our theorizing. We then outline potential implications of human-social robot psychological contracts and offer a range of pathways for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date26 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


  • Psychological contract
  • social robots and humanoid robots
  • reciprocity
  • social exchange
  • artificial intelligence
  • human–robot interaction


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