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Children’s Knowledge and Imaginary About Robots


The aim of this paper is to investigate on children’s knowledge and imaginary about robots. To do so, we administered to 704 children from 17 classes of 8 elementary and secondary schools, a survey with close and open questions about their conceptualization of robots. To carry out this study we took as point of reference the theoretical framework of social representations. The main results are that children evaluate toys, robots and human-beings as significantly different on all the characteristics considered. More than toys, robots have mechanical movements, they move, are more intelligent than toys but they do not keep company to them. By contrast, human beings are perceived by children starting from their corporeity: they eat and sleep, move by themselves, are intelligent and speak, keep eye-contact and company. However, children complain about the fact that human beings do not play with them. The imaginary about robots that children receive from media is characterized by anthropomorphic shapes, bodies and by human-like cognitions, feelings and behavior. The more examples of visual products with robots children are able to evoke, the higher they evaluate robots on all human-like characteristics (e.g. it looks into my eyes). Hence, the tension between imaginary and knowledge can be confounding because the human-like features of fictional robots are more advanced than those reachable by the factual ones.

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Correspondence to Leopoldina Fortunati.

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Fortunati, L., Esposito, A., Sarrica, M. et al. Children’s Knowledge and Imaginary About Robots. Int J of Soc Robotics 7, 685–695 (2015).

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  • Child imagination
  • Robots
  • Toys
  • Human beings
  • Social representations