International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 497–512 | Cite as

Why Should We Imitate Robots? Effect of Back Imitation on Judgment of Imitative Skill

  • Yasser MohammadEmail author
  • Toyoaki Nishida


How we perceive robots affects how we interact with them and vice versa. This leads us to hypothesize that imitating a robot (back imitation) would affect human’s perception of this robot. More specifically, we suggest that it would lead to the attribution to a higher imitative skill to the robot when it subsequently imitates the human. Given that one of the major challenges in learning from demonstration (imitation) in robotics is the limited number of training examples that the demonstrator is usually willing to provide, it would be beneficial to design the interaction context in such a way to increase human’s subjective evaluation of the robot’s imitative skills and back-imitation may be a way to achieve that. Three studies were conducted—involving 78 subjects and 150 HRI sessions—to evaluate the effect of back imitation on human’s perception of the robot along several dimensions including imitation skill, motion human likeness, interaction quality, humanness and likability. These studies show that people who imitated the robot for few minutes assigned it later higher imitative skill and motion human-likeness. Moreover, back imitation was shown to lead to higher intention of future interaction. The paper reports the results of these studies and discusses their implications for the design of imitation interactions.


Learning through imitation Back imitation Perception of robots Social factors in imitation 



This study has been carried out with financial support from the Center of Innovation Program from JST, JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 24240023, JSPS Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Postdoctoral Fellows P12046, and AFOSR/AOARD Grant No. FA2386-14-1-0005.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Assiut UniversityAssiutEgypt

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