As of 2019, more than 14 million Americans owned a robotic vacuum cleaner. Robotic lawnmowers tend to our yards, robotic suitcases follow us through the airport, and smart cooking machines prepare ingredients and implement entire recipes. Some autonomous products even play with and clean up after our pets. These tools are meant to improve people’s lives, relieving them of chores and making them happier as a result — and while some do this, others don’t. How can business leaders ensure that their companies are developing products that people actually feel good about using?

As consumer psychologists, we have accumulated a great deal of evidence that spending money to outsource disliked tasks — such as by paying for a housecleaner — can improve happiness, lower stress, and improve our romantic relationships (even during the pandemic).