People are often afraid that robots will take over their jobs. Some economists believe that robots will take over blue-collar occupations faster than white-collar jobs.
But, according to the authors, it doesn’t look like robots are taking over that many jobs yet, at least not in the United States.
According to a new paper published by the American Psychological Association, working alongside robots may lead to job fatigue and incivility in the workplace, but self-affirmation practices may help relieve anxieties about being replaced by these machines.
Researchers discovered that workers in the United States and parts of Asia feel job insecurity due to robots, even in industries where robots are not used. Lead researcher Kai Chi Yam, PhD, an associate professor of management at the National University of Singapore, believes that these fears may not be justified.
“Some economists theorize that robots are more likely to take over blue-collar jobs faster than white-collar jobs,” as explained by Yam.
“However,” according to Yam, “it doesn’t look like robots are taking over that many jobs yet, at least not in the United States, so a lot of these fears are rather subjective.”
Researchers in the United States, Singapore, India, and Taiwan conducted tests and examined data collected from volunteers in those countries.
The research was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology online.
In a study involving 118 engineers working for an Indian car manufacturing company, exposure to industrial robots was associated with higher complaints of burnout and rudeness at work.
A 400-participant online trial revealed that self-affirmation activities, in which individuals are encouraged to think positively about themselves and their unique human qualities, may help reduce workplace robot phobias.
Participants discussed values or traits that were significant to them, such as friendship and family, humor, or sports.
Most individuals, according to Yam, underestimate their own talents while overestimating the potential of robots.
People often worry that robots will take their jobs. The researchers looked at data about how many robots were in 185 U.S. metropolitan areas and how often popular job-hunting sites were used in those areas (LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.).
Even if unemployment rates weren’t greater there, places with the highest prevalence of robots also had the highest prevalence of job recruiting site searches.
The researchers hypothesized that although workers in these regions would have experienced greater job instability as a result of robots, there may have been other contributing factors as well, such as people looking for new vocations or being dissatisfied with their current positions.
In another experiment, 343 parents of National University of Singapore students were divided into three groups.
The first group read a piece about using robots in enterprises, the second group read a piece about robots in general, and the third group read something unrelated.
The participants were then polled regarding their worries about job insecurity, with the first group expressing noticeably more employment insecurity than the other two groups.
Some media coverage may be excessively exaggerating anxiety among the general public, Yam added, despite the fact that some individuals may have valid worries about losing their jobs to robots.
“Media reports on new technologies like robots and algorithms tend to be apocalyptic in nature, so people may develop an irrational fear about them,” he added.
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