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Effects of Observing Eye Contact between a Robot and Another Person

Abstract

Being accepted by humans is one of the common requirements for a communication robot. Previous work has examined the effects of non-verbal factors on people’s perceptions of robots for such a purpose, but always with a focus on dyadic human-robot interaction; in real human society, however, triadic interaction also plays an important role and should be considered. This paper explores a potential merit offered by the latter form of interaction: specifically, how one form of non-verbal interaction occurring between a robot and humans, eye contact, can be utilized to make the robot appear more acceptable to humans. Experiments were conducted with groups of two humans and an android, in which one of the humans, the “subject”, was asked to communicate with a second person who had knowledge of the purpose of the experiment, the “confederate”; the confederate’s role was to gaze in such a way that the subject either observed or did not observe eye contact between the confederate and the android. A post-interaction questionnaire revealed that subjects’ impressions toward the robot were influenced by eye contact between the confederate and robot. Finally, the consistency of the experimental results was discussed in terms of Heider’s balance theory, and future extensions of this research were proposed.

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Correspondence to Michihiro Shimada.

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Shimada, M., Yoshikawa, Y., Asada, M. et al. Effects of Observing Eye Contact between a Robot and Another Person. Int J of Soc Robotics 3, 143–154 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-010-0072-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-010-0072-9

Keywords

  • Person’s perception
  • Triadic interaction
  • Eye-contact
  • Android
  • Heider’s balance theory