Exoskeletons in the workplace: user acceptance and psychological effects on workers
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
12. Tagung der DGPs-Fachgruppen Arbeits-, Organisations- und Wirtschaftspsychologie sowie Ingenieurspsychologie
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
Industrial workers often suffer from musculoskeletal disorders due to their physically demanding activities. Exoskeletons, that is, technological assistance systems worn on the body, promise to provide physical relief and support workers in executing their tasks well. Sometimes called ?wearable robots? (Pons, 2008), exoskeletons may be equipped with electrical actuators to augment human power. Closer to real-world use at present, however, are purely mechanical systems. Such ?passive exoskeletons? are intended to reduce strain, for example when bending down or working overhead, by redistributing energy harvested from the wearer?s motion.
While there is an increasing number of empirical studies investigating the physical effects of exoskeletons, little is known so far about the psychological implications of using this new technology. This talk will provide first insights from the research project "ExoBility", in which we focus on determinants of exoskeleton acceptance and effects on workers? well-being and self-efficacy beliefs (Bandura, 1999). Results from initial field studies with retail and logistics workers in several Austrian companies provide preliminary indication that wearing an exoskeleton on the job might not automatically lead to an increase in task-specific self-efficacy, i.e. how capable a person feels of performing job-related tasks successfully. Such envisaged benefits as well as the willingness to use exoskeletons at all seem to arise only under certain conditions, e.g. when there is a good task-technology fit, high perceived usability, and if the wearer actually feels relieved (Siedl, Wolf, & Mara, 2021). Building on these initial findings, the talk will also discuss future research directions related to exoskeletons.