Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Collier, Joel E.

Committee Member

Breazeale, Michael J.

Committee Member

Shanahan, Kevin J.

Committee Member

Moore, Robert S.

Committee Member

Pizer, Ginger B.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Business


Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law


With the rapid development of artificial intelligence, service robots play an increasingly important role in frontline service across various industries. However, many questions surrounding service robots as a novel service option are still less studied, and thus, remain uncertain to marketers. Therefore, this dissertation investigated and addressed some of these questions, by assessing the potential advantages of service robots, not only as compared to human employees, but also among service robots’ different humanlike vocal features, including voice types, accents, and speaking styles. Specifically, to address the research gaps identified through an in-depth literature review conducted in Chapter 2, a series of empirical studies were conducted and presented in Chapter 3 (Essay One) and Chapter 4 (Essay Two).

Chapter 3 begins with Study 1a, an investigation into the potential advantages of service robots as compared to human employees in a hotel check-in setting. The findings suggest that service robots outperform human employees in customers’ enjoyment of the interactions. Study 1b replicated the earlier study in a fast-food restaurant setting, where service robots were found to outperform human employees in customers’ word-of-mouth (WOM) intentions as well. In Study 2, an investigation specifically into a service robot’s vocal design was conducted, by comparing three potential voice types (male, female, or robotic) in a movie theater setting. The findings reveal that a human male voice is the most ideal across various customer outcomes, highlighting the importance for marketers to determine the optimal voice type for a service robot.

Chapter 4 reports further investigations of service robots’ vocal design, specifically regarding their accents and speaking styles. In Study 3, four subordinate studies were conducted in a hotel check-in setting. The findings suggest that when a service robot’s accent is congruent with its local region, it enhances customers’ perceived enjoyment of the interactions and various customer outcomes. In Study 4, a further investigation was conducted into a service robot’s speaking style, to assess its potential influence under a service failure and recovery context. The findings suggest that a service robot’s use of a colloquial speaking style attenuates customers’ perceived competence of the service robot and related customer outcomes, which further highlight the importance of a service robot’s appropriate language use, especially during a service recovery. A general discussion regarding Study 1 to Study 4 was provided in Chapter 5, offering valuable implications to both scholars and marketers, and suggesting promising avenues for future research.