International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 687–700 | Cite as

Age- and Gender-Based Differences in Children’s Interactions with a Gender-Matching Robot

  • Anara SandygulovaEmail author
  • Gregory M. P. O’Hare


Social robots are increasingly being used to encourage social, emotional and cognitive growth in children. However, in order to establish social and bonding interactions, social robots need to be able to exhibit adaptive strategies to keep children engaged and interested. Adaptive strategies of a social robot based on children’s age and gender are motivated by the comprehensive theory on gender development. Given the strong influence of gender in children’s cognitive development, the experiment first examined the responses of 107 children, ages 5–12, whether synthesized voice evokes gender associations in children. The results suggest that young children (ages 5–8) are not able to successfully attribute gender to the robot in correspondence with the synthesized voice. In addition, we explicitly investigated children’s preferences for the robot’s gender, and the results were contrary to our expectations: young children indicated their preference for a robot with a matching gender while there was no difference in preferences for a robot’s gender by older children (ages 9–12).


Child–robot interaction Human–robot interaction Social robotics Adaptive strategies Gender Age 



The authors would also like to express great appreciation to the members of staff of the Queen of Angels primary school for their time and help with the experiment. Special thanks to Dr. Maria Nikolayev (Sumaroka), who provided very valuable advice and suggestions in designing the experiment. In addition, great gratitude should be given to Dr. Verena Nitsch for her help with data analysis. The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their valuable feedback and suggestions to improve the article.


This study was funded by Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland (07/CE/l1147).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Anara Sandygulova has received research grants from Irish Research Council.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Science and TechnologyNazarbayev UniversityAstanaKazakhstan
  2. 2.University College DublinBelfield, Dublin 4Ireland

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