International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 799–824 | Cite as

Individuals’ Evaluations of and Attitudes Towards Potentially Uncanny Robots

  • Astrid M. Rosenthal-von der PüttenEmail author
  • Nicole C. Krämer


In the present work we provide an overview and categorization of explanatory approaches for the uncanny valley effect and present an empirical study. Against the background of the uncanny valley hypothesis, the study utilized qualitative interviews in which participants were presented with pictures and videos of potentially uncanny humanoid and android robots to explore participants’ evaluations of very human-like robots, their attitudes about these robots, and their emotional reactions towards these robots. In this regard, the influence of the robots’ appearance, movement and the context of HRI were examined. Results showed that, contrasting the hypothesis, participants reported not only negative, but also positive emotional reactions towards the possibly uncanny robots. The robots’ appearance was of great importance for the participants, because certain characteristics were equalized with certain abilities, merely human appearance without a connected functionality was not appreciated, and human rules of attractiveness were applied to the android robots. The analysis also demonstrated the importance of the robots’ movements and the social context they were placed in. The importance of two possible causes and explanations of the uncanny valley, namely uncertainty at category boundaries (cf. Ramey in Proceedings of views of the uncanny valley workshop: IEEE-RAS international conference on humanoid robots, 2005; Proceedings of the ICCS/CogSci-2006 long symposium “Toward Social Mechanisms of Android Science”, 2006) and subconscious fears of being replaced (cf. MacDorman & Ishiguro in Interact Stud 7(3):297–337, 2006) were explored in this work. On this reflective level of evaluation we found some support for the assumptions that participants experienced uncertainty how to categorize android robots (as human or machine) and that some (but not all) participants felt uncomfortable at the thought to be replaced by robots.


Uncanny valley Android Humanoid Robot Interview study Human–robot interaction 



This work was supported by a doctoral fellowship of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation).

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany

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