clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Most people prefer friendly robots — but not in France and Japan

Japanese prefer formal robots, according to a survey.

Latest Robots On Display At Robodex Trade Show
A humanoid robot on display at the Robodex trade show in Tokyo
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

As robots increasingly replace human jobs, thanks to record spending on automation, how should they behave? That preference depends on where you live.

LivePerson, a company that works in automated customer service, recently surveyed 5,000 people on what personality types they prefer in a customer service bot.

The majority, 62 percent, said they want bots to be friendly, 21 percent would prefer a formal bot and 9 percent said they’d like their bot to be humorous. Only 4 percent said they prefer a curt robot.

But that preference varies by country and culture.

The vast majority of Americans surveyed — 78 percent — preferred friendly robots, with just 13 percent preferring a formal robot personality. Friendly robot types also won handily in Australia, the U.K. and Germany.

But in France, an equal percentage of survey respondents — 37 percent — preferred friendly and formal bots. (France was also where the largest percentage of respondents — 8 percent — preferred a “hip” robot personality.)

And in Japan, where robots have long been part of popular culture — and are increasingly being discussed for eldercare purposes — respondents had a different take. The most — 51 percent — wanted a formal robot, while just 20 percent preferred a friendly robot.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.