IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 48

robots [25]. These questions reveal attitudes only within
a positive response to each proposed scenario. Some
items were designed to assess preferences toward robots
pertaining to technical roles, such as surgery or city
cleaning. Others referred to robots engaged in relational
and affective roles, such as friendship or assistance.
Section C's 6 questions in Likert scale format (Figure  2) assessed participants' attitudes toward robots'
dependability, considered from several essential perspectives (availability, reliability, safety, confidentiality, integrity. and maintainability). As suggested in the literature,
dependability is one characteristic that has been shown
empirically to affect robots' trustworthiness [26]-[27].
A draft of the questionnaire was pilot tested with a
small sample of university students. It was evaluated
both for clarity and logical consistency of the questions,
and the time taken to complete the survey.
No challenges emerged during the pretest phase, so
the electronic version of the same survey text was developed using Google Forms, and data gathering was started.

Participants
The questionnaire was administered online to high
school and university students in Rome, Italy, with the
aim of collecting bottom-up data useful for orienting
robotic design. Students under 18 years old were invited
with the consent of their teachers to participate in the
survey. To foster the inclusion in the sample of respondents with a shared interest in and knowledge of technology, invitations to take part in the survey were
emailed mostly to those schools and universities that
had participated in a series of robot-related events promoted by the Fondazione Mondo Digitale.
A small number of participants learned about the
survey through other school or university contacts, not
necessarily related to technology.
Approximately 100 secondary and university institutions across a wide spectrum of scientific and humanistic
Only 1 Answer per Question

fields were involved in the survey. An age range of 14 to
30 for participation in the survey was defined since
today's young generations will be the future potential
operators of social robots. Data about the attitudes and
preferences of a young sample can be used in formulating investment suggestions for robotics companies.

Statistical Analysis
Descriptive statistical analysis was performed to summarize the results obtained from the pilot survey. Section A answers were grouped as follows: strongly
disagree and disagree, as "disagree" (not confident in
humans), agree and strongly agree, as "agree" (confident in humans), and not disagree and not agree, as
"neutral," used as reference answers.
Odds ratios and their 95% of confidence intervals
were calculated to evaluate associations among different variables. The reference answers were used to compare Section A and Section B questions.
Chi square and Fisher tests were used to confirm statistical significance. All p values <0.05 were considered
statistically significant. Statistical analysis was performed using Epi Info software, version 3.5.4.

Results
Statistical Analysis
A total of 1640 students filled out the questionnaire, but
after eliminating those with ambiguities and/or missing
answers, 1213 (74%) were considered suitable.
The age range most represented was 16-17 (29.6%
of the sample). Respondents were prevalently male
(52.8%). Of the respondents, 29% were university students. The most prevalent field of study both for high
school and university respondents was technological,
95% and 84%, respectively (Table 1).
Most respondents chose "disagree" as their answer
to questions 1 to 4, whereas for the last two questions,

Dangerous

Useless

Important

Very
Important

40) Robots must keep working even if some of their systems
are damaged
41) Robots must always be fully functioning
42) Robots must not cause damage to things, people,
or the environment
43) Robots must protect my privacy
44) Robots must protect themselves from hacker
45) Robots must be repairable

FIGURE 2. Questionaire sample questions: Section C.

48

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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DECEMBER 2019

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