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In Robot Framework, what is the difference between a List Variable and a Scalar Variable containing a list?

In the case of assignment as shown in your question, there is no difference. If you log each of those you'll get the exact same value. Note: this functionality was introduced in version 2.8 (see Using scaler variables as lists in the robot framework user's guide).

The difference comes when you use the values. When you use the @ symbol to reference the list, each element in the list becomes a cell. In the following example, the following three lines give identical results:

| | A keyword that expects three arguments | a | b | c
| | A keyword that expects three arguments | @{list}
| | A keyword that expects three arguments | @{scaler}

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