This paper describes how audio and visual stimuli during a robot’s hug change its perceived impressions and stress-buffering effects. In human science literature, the perceived gender influences the impressions of touch interactions, including hugs. In this study we investigate whether the perceived gender of an interacting agent controlled by audio-visual stimuli affects the influence of positive hugs like a stress-buffering effect. We used a system called Metahug that integrates a robot and a virtual reality application and prepared both female- and male-appearance agents and experimentally investigated the audio-visual effects for human–robot hug interaction. Our results showed that the robot’s hug impressions were significantly different based on the agents’ genders. Moreover, the participants reported significantly lower tension in a stressful task when they hugged an opposite-gender-appearance agent compared to a same-gender-appearance agent. Our results suggest that the Metahug system can change both the impressions of a robot’s hug and stress-buffering effects of the hug by altering the audio and visual stimuli of the virtual reality application.
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This work was supported by JST CREST Grant Number JPMJCR18A1, Japan.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This paper is an extended version of a previous work of Shiomi et al.  and contains additional references, experiment and discussions.
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Shiomi, M., Hagita, N. Audio-Visual Stimuli Change not Only Robot’s Hug Impressions but Also Its Stress-Buffering Effects. Int J of Soc Robotics (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-019-00530-1
- Hug interaction
- Human–robot touch interaction
- Virtual reality