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Study Finds Our Fear of Workplace Robots Could Be Hurting Our Health



Do you quietly worry about robots stealing your job?

A fascinating Ball State/Villanova University study reveals that employees are worried about the metal ones coming for their jobs, and all this worrying could be impacting their overall health!


Researchers at Ball State and Villanova wanted to examine, on the county level, how employees' underlying fears that they could end up unemployed thanks to a robot or computer might be linked to health issues. In other words, can our fear of automation make our overall health worse?

In a nutshell, it sure seems that way: The researchers found that a 10-percentage-point increase in automation risk at the county level worsens general, physical and mental health by 2.38 percentage points, 0.8 percentage points, and 0.6 percentage points, respectively. So even just our perception of poorer job security could be impacting our mental and physical health.

Where we live appears to matter, as well. The South, the study finds, has a higher percentage of automation-risk-to-worse-health outcomes in relation to other regions of the United States. The impact is less in the Western states. The findings, it should be noted, tend to be in line with overall health patterns by region.

So what does it mean? Well, where we live -- right down to the county level! -- could be influencing the amount of perceived automation risk we quietly internalize, which in turn might just impact our overall health. More research needs to be in done on the topic. In the meantime, maybe we can start a real conversation about the impact of automation not only on our future pocketbooks, but on our immediate overall health, as well.

The study appears in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

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