Marketing Faculty Publications and Presentations

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  • This research examines customer incivility toward service robots involving service failures from fellow customers’ perspective as third parties.

  • The deontic theory of justice and uncanny valley theory provide the theoretical foundation.

  • This research utilizes an experimental design approach and conducts three studies to test the hypotheses.

  • Third-party customers’ empathy interacts with robot eeriness to jointly impact downstream customer responses.


As service robots become increasingly common in the marketplace, more research is necessary to better understand customer perceptions of and responses to those robots, especially in the context of service failures. This paper investigates service robots from the perspective of a customer as a third-party observer, specifically examining the effect of the customer’s empathy toward the robot on downstream customer responses and the moderating role of robot eeriness on that effect. Namely, we find that for a low eeriness robot (e.g., a robotic “arm”), customer responses generally become more desirable as empathy increases (i.e., complaint intentions and dissatisfaction are lower, and satisfaction is higher). Meanwhile, for a high eeriness robot (e.g., a humanoid robot), those same customer responses generally become less desirable as empathy increases. The findings have implications for scholarship on robotic automation in services marketing and for marketers seeking to implement service robots in customer-facing contexts.


Original published version available at

Publication Title

International Journal of Hospitality Management



Available for download on Monday, March 01, 2027

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