You Look Human, But Act Like a Machine: Agent Appearance and Behavior Modulate Different Aspects of Human–Robot Interaction




Abubshait, Abdulaziz
Wiese, Eva

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Frontiers in Psychology


Gaze following occurs automatically in social interactions, but the degree to which gaze is followed depends on whether an agent is perceived to have a mind, making its behavior socially more relevant for the interaction. Mind perception also modulates the attitudes we have toward others, and determines the degree of empathy, prosociality, and morality invested in social interactions. Seeing mind in others is not exclusive to human agents, but mind can also be ascribed to non-human agents like robots, as long as their appearance and/or behavior allows them to be perceived as intentional beings. Previous studies have shown that human appearance and reliable behavior induce mind perception to robot agents, and positively affect attitudes and performance in human–robot interaction. What has not been investigated so far is whether different triggers of mind perception have an independent or interactive effect on attitudes and performance in human–robot interaction. We examine this question by manipulating agent appearance (human vs. robot) and behavior (reliable vs. random) within the same paradigm and examine how congruent (human/reliable vs. robot/random) versus incongruent (human/random vs. robot/reliable) combinations of these triggers affect performance (i.e., gaze following) and attitudes (i.e., agent ratings) in human–robot interaction. The results show that both appearance and behavior affect human–robot interaction but that the two triggers seem to operate in isolation, with appearance more strongly impacting attitudes, and behavior more strongly affecting performance. The implications of these findings for human–robot interaction are discussed.