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      Legacies and Last Words: Exploring Expressed Experiences of Robot Death

      Technology, Mind, and Behavior
      American Psychological Association
      social robots, death, parasocial relationships, brokenness, meaning-making

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          As robots are increasingly designed and marketed for social adoption, questions emerge about manufacturers’ ethical responsibilities for ensuring continuity of their creations. However, addressing such questions first requires advancing empirical understandings of how humans experience robots’ metaphorical death (i.e., functional cessation). This study advances that aim by exploring an interstitial: public reactions to a known robot’s functional cessation (RFC). Focusing on a specific RFC event—the official announced demise of the “Opportunity” Mars rover—this study unpacked experience dimensions by inductively analyzing public tweets about the event. Semantic network analysis of N = 10,303 tweets is interpreted as indicating 11 key expressed themes (robot legacy, journey, last words, persistence, contributions, and death finality; physiological and emotional reactions; formal and meme-based salutations and memorializing). Interpretation of network content suggests three potential overarching orientations toward the RFC event: cessation as death, as milestone, and as material loss.

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          Using thematic analysis in psychology

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            Measurement Instruments for the Anthropomorphism, Animacy, Likeability, Perceived Intelligence, and Perceived Safety of Robots

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              Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction


                Author and article information

                Technology, Mind, and Behavior
                American Psychological Association
                November 29, 2022
                : 3
                : 4
                [1]School of Information Studies, Syracuse University
                Author notes
                Action Editor: Danielle S. McNamara was the action editor for this article.
                Acknowledgements: The author thanks Alexandra Sakkis for her assistance with data processing. Thanks to the Texas Tech College of Media & Communication, where a portion of this work was done. The author has no perceived or potential conflicts of interest. All data and analysis documentation are available in the online materials at https://osf.io/dpreu/.
                Disclosures: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.
                Open Science Disclosures:

                The data are available at https://bit.ly/robdeath

                [*] Jaime Banks, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, 343 Hinds Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244, United States banks@syr.edu
                Author information
                2023-15403-001 tmb
                © 2022 The Author(s)

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC-BY-NC-ND). This license permits copying and redistributing the work in any medium or format for noncommercial use provided the original authors and source are credited and a link to the license is included in attribution. No derivative works are permitted under this license.

                Self URI (journal-page): https://tmb.apaopen.org/

                Education,Psychology,Vocational technology,Engineering,Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                brokenness,death,social robots,parasocial relationships,meaning-making


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