Blurring Human–Machine Distinctions: Anthropomorphic Appearance in Social Robots as a Threat to Human Distinctiveness
- 2.6k Downloads
The present research aims at gaining a better insight on the psychological barriers to the introduction of social robots in society at large. Based on social psychological research on intergroup distinctiveness, we suggested that concerns toward this technology are related to how we define and defend our human identity. A threat to distinctiveness hypothesis was advanced. We predicted that too much perceived similarity between social robots and humans triggers concerns about the negative impact of this technology on humans, as a group, and their identity more generally because similarity blurs category boundaries, undermining human uniqueness. Focusing on the appearance of robots, in two studies we tested the validity of this hypothesis. In both studies, participants were presented with pictures of three types of robots that differed in their anthropomorphic appearance varying from no resemblance to humans (mechanical robots), to some body shape resemblance (biped humanoids) to a perfect copy of human body (androids). Androids raised the highest concerns for the potential damage to humans, followed by humanoids and then mechanical robots. In Study 1, we further demonstrated that robot anthropomorphic appearance (and not the attribution of mind and human nature) was responsible for the perceived damage that the robot could cause. In Study 2, we gained a clearer insight in the processes underlying this effect by showing that androids were also judged as most threatening to the human–robot distinction and that this perception was responsible for the higher perceived damage to humans. Implications of these findings for social robotics are discussed.
KeywordsSocial acceptance of social robots Threat to human distinctiveness Uncanny valley Robot anthropomorphic appearance Androids
The research for this paper was financially supported by a doctorate grant awarded by the University of Trento to F. Ferrari. Portions of the data of Study 1 have been analyzed for a different purpose and presented in form of a proceeding at “Evaluating Social Robts”, The 13th International Conference on Intelligent Autonomous System, July 18, 2014, Padova, Italy.
Authors contribution Francesco Ferrari, Maria Paola Paladino and Jolanda Jetten developed the study concept. Francesco Ferrari and Maria Paola Paladino designed the studies. Francesco Ferrari prepared the experimental material, collected and analyzed the data. Francesco Ferrari and Maria Paola Paladino drafted the manuscript. Jolanda Jetten edited and contributed to the critical revisions of the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final version for submission.
- 1.Kanda T, Ishiguro H, Ishida T (2001) Psychological analysis on human–robot interaction. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and automation, 2001. Proceedings 2001 ICRA. vol 4, pp 4166–4173. doi: 10.1109/ROBOT.2001.933269
- 2.Lee KM, Jung Y, Kim J, Kim SR (2006) Are physically embodied social agents better than disembodied social agents?: the effects of physical embodiment, tactile interaction, and people’s loneliness in humanrobot interaction. Int J Hum Comput Stud 64(10):962–973. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2006.05.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 3.European Commission, Special Eurobarometer 382, Public Attitudes Toward Robots (2012) TNS opinion & social, brussels [Producer]. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_382_en. Accessed 22th May 2015
- 4.Kamide H, Mae Y, Kawabe K, Shigemi S, Arai T (2012) A psychological scale for general impressions of humanoids. In 2012 IEEE international conference on robotics and automation (ICRA), pp 4030–4037. doi: 10.1080/01691864.2013.751159
- 5.Mori M (1970) The uncanny valley. Energy 7(4):33–35Google Scholar
- 7.Ramey CH (2005) The uncanny valley of similarities concerning abortion, baldness, heaps of sand, and humanlike robots. In: Proceedings of views of the uncanny valley workshop: IEEE-RAS international conference on humanoid robots, pp 8–13Google Scholar
- 16.Jetten J, Spears R, Manstead AS (1997) Distinctiveness threat and prototypicality: combined effects on intergroup discrimination and collective self-esteem. Eur J Soc Psychol 27(6):635–657. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199711/12)27:63.0.CO;2-#Google Scholar
- 20.Hegel F, Eyssel F, Wrede B (2010) The social robot ‘flobi’: key concepts of industrial design. In: IEEE RO-MAN 2010, pp 107–112. doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2010.5598691
- 22.Zecca M, Mizoguchi Y, Endo K, Iida F, Kawabata Y, Endo N, Itoh K, Takanishi A (2009) Whole body emotion expressions for KOBIAN humanoid robotpreliminary experiments with different emotional patterns. In: The 18th IEEE international symposium on robot and human interactive communication, 2009. RO-MAN 2009, pp 381–386. doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2009.5326184
- 28.Ferrari F, Paladino MP (2014) Validation of the psychological scale of general impressions of humanoids in an italian sample. In: Workshop proceedings of IAS-13, 13th international conference on intelligent autonomous systems, Padova, Accessed July 15–19, pp 436–441, ISBN: 978-88-95872-06-3Google Scholar
- 36.Mazzei D, Billeci L, Armato A, Lazzeri N, Cisternino A, Pioggia G, Igliozzi R, Muratori F, Ahluwalia A, De Rossi D (2010) The FACE of autism. In: Proceedings—IEEE international workshop on robot and human interactive communication, art. no. 5598683, pp 791–796. doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2010.5598683
- 37.Mazzei D, Lazzeri N, Billeci L, Igliozzi R, Mancini A, Ahluwalia A, Muratori F, De Rossi D (2011) Development and evaluation of a social robot platform for therapy in autism. In: Proceedings of the annual international conference of the IEEE engineering in medicine and biology society, EMBS, art. no. 6091119, pp 4515–4518. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6091119
- 48.Becker-Asano C, Ogawa K, Nishio S, Ishiguro H (2010) Exploring the uncanny valley with Geminoid HI-1 in a real-world application. In: Proceedings of IADIS International conference interfaces and human computer interaction, pp 121–128. ISBN: 978-972-8939-18-2Google Scholar
- 50.Bartneck C (2008, August) Who like androids more: Japanese or US Americans?. In: The 17th IEEE international symposium on robot and human interactive communication, 2008. RO-MAN 2008, pp 553–557. doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2008.4600724
- 52.Sorbello R, Chella A, Giardina M, Nishio S, Ishiguro H (2014) An architecture for telenoid robot as empathic conversational android companion for elderly people. In: The 13th international conference on intelligent autonomous systems (IAS-13), PadovaGoogle Scholar