“If you are about to get fired, would you prefer a robot or another people to replace you?” Was the question asked by researchers from Germany. Most choose a robot – but only in their place. Instead of colleagues, the respondents want to see another person.

A study on the differences in the psychological perception of robots as colleagues was conducted by scientists from the Technical University of Munich. They interviewed 300 people, asking them to answer the question of whom they would prefer as a replacement for one of their colleagues. 62% said it would be better if it was a man. But when they were asked to change their perspectives and imagine that they were losing their jobs, only 37% thought that they should be replaced by another person.

“Whether modern technology or a person replaces you, these options have different psychological consequences,” concluded Armin Granulo, the head of the experiment.

Granulo and his team then interviewed 251 people to determine the intensity of their negative emotions – grief, anger, or disappointment – from having someone replaced with a robot.

In the case when the robot replaced a colleague, respondents responded more clearly than when they themselves gave way to the robot, writes New Scientist.

Researchers found that respondents considered robots a lesser threat to self-identity than other people. Perhaps this is due to the fact that people do not think that they can compete on equal terms with robots or programs, Granulo suggested.

His team also found out how much people fear the “invasion of robots”: a third of factory workers surveyed by a German researcher are sure that they can soon be replaced by mechanisms.

This hunch is fully justified: according to estimates by the consulting company Oxford Economics, the manufacturing sector of the economy will lose 20 million jobs by 2030.