Robot Petting Zoo

Female student holding a robot cat on lap.Western Michigan University libraries have been involved in fun, stress-reducing activities during exam weeks for several years. Of these activities, a common component is the presence of a therapy animal, usually either a dog or a cat. While therapy animals have demonstrated the ability to reduce stress and anxiety in students (Jalongo & Mcdevitt, 2015), there are also concerns when bringing live animals into a library, including the mess and potential allergies. Robotic animals, specifically dogs and cats, eliminate those concerns and may offer a similar level of stress relief to students suffering from exam-related anxiety. To test those claims, in the fall of 2019, the Communication and Social Robotics Labs, the University Library and the School of Communication began a partnership to investigate the potential therapeutic impact of students interacting with robot pets during finals week.

This collaboration developed through a partnership on a previous study between the Libraries and the Communication and Social Robotics Labs on a telepresence robot used to provide library services.

Learn more about the Communication and Social Robotics Labs.