International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 83–93 | Cite as

Would Children Help a Robot in Need?

  • Tanya N. BeranEmail author
  • Alejandro Ramirez-Serrano
  • Roman Kuzyk
  • Sarah Nugent
  • Meghann Fior


Just as human-human behavior and interactions are important to study, human-robot interactions will take more prominence in the near future. These interactions will not only be in one direction, robots helping humans, but they will also be bidirectional with humans helping robots. This study examined the interactions between children and robots by observing whether children help a robot complete a task, and the contexts which elicited the most help. Five studies were conducted each consisting of 20 or more children per group with an approximate even number of boys and girls. Visitors to a science centre located in a major Western Canadian city were invited to participate in an experiment set up at the centre. Their behaviors with a robot, a small 5 degree of freedom robot arm programmed with a set of predefined tasks which could be selected during the experiments, were observed. Results of chi-square analyses indicated that children are most likely to help a robot after experiencing a positive introduction to it, X 2(1)=4.15,p=.04. Moreover, a positive introduction in combination with permission to help resulted in the vast majority (70%) of children helping. These results suggest that adult instructions about a robot impact children’s perceptions and helping behaviors towards it. The generalizability of these results to children’s helping behaviors towards people is also discussed.


Robotics Children Prosocial behaviors Developmental robotics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science & Business Media BV 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanya N. Beran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alejandro Ramirez-Serrano
    • 2
  • Roman Kuzyk
    • 3
  • Sarah Nugent
    • 4
  • Meghann Fior
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringAutonomous Reconfigurable Robotics Systems Laboratory, University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Division of Applied PsychologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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