A Psychological Need-Fulfillment Perspective for Designing Social Robots that Support Well-Being

Suzanne Janssen*, Bob Rinse Schadenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This conceptual paper presents a novel framework for the design and study of social robots that support well-being. Building upon the self-determination theory and the associated Motivation, Engagement, and Thriving in User Experience (METUX) model, this paper argues that users’ psychological basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness should be put at the center of social robot design. These basic needs are essential to people’s psychological well-being, engagement, and self-motivation. However, current literature offers limited insights into how human–robot interactions are related to users’ experiences of the satisfaction of their basic psychological needs and thus, to their well-being and flourishing. We propose that a need-fulfillment perspective could be an inspiring lens for the design of social robots, including socially assistive robots. We conceptualize various ways in which a psychological need-fulfillment perspective may be incorporated into future human–robot interaction research and design, ranging from the interface level to the specific tasks performed by a robot or the user’s behavior supported by the robot. The paper discusses the implications of the framework for designing social robots that promote well-being, as well as the implications for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of social robotics
Early online date25 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 25 Feb 2024


  • Social Robotics
  • well-being
  • self-determination theory
  • design framework
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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