Using robots at work during the COVID-19 crisis evokes passion decay: Evidence from field and experimental studies. Academic Article uri icon


  • The growing trend of introducing robots into employees' work lives has become increasingly salient during the global COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this pandemic, it is likely that organisational decision-makers are seeing value in coupling employees with robots for both efficiency- and health-related reasons. An unintended consequence of this coupling, however, may be an increased level of work routinisation and standardisation. We draw primarily from the model of passion decay from the relationship and clinical psychology literature to develop theory and test a model arguing that passion decays as employees increasingly interact with robots for their work activities. We demonstrate that this passion decay leads to an increase of withdrawal behaviour from both the domains of work and family. Drawing further from the model of passion decay, we reveal that employees higher in openness to experience are less likely to suffer from passion decay upon more frequent interactions with robots in the course of work. Across a multi-source, multi-wave field study conducted in Hong Kong (Study 1) and a simulation-based experiment conducted in the United States (Study 2), our hypotheses received support. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

published proceedings

  • Appl Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Tang, P. M., Koopman, J., Elfenbein, H. A., Zhang, J. H., De Cremer, D., Li, C. H., & Chan, E. T.

complete list of authors

  • Tang, Pok Man||Koopman, Joel||Elfenbein, Hillary Anger||Zhang, Jack H||De Cremer, David||Li, Chi Hon||Chan, Elsa T

publication date

  • July 2022