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Don’t Stare at Me: The Impact of a Humanoid Robot’s Gaze upon Trust During a Cooperative Human–Robot Visual Task

Abstract

Gaze is an important tool for social communication. Gaze can influence trust, likability, and compliance. However, excessive gaze in some contexts can signal threat, dominance and aggression, and hence complex social rules govern the appropriate use of gaze. Using a between-subjects design we investigated the impact of three levels of robot gaze (averted, constant and “situational”) upon participants’ likelihood of trusting a humanoid robot’s opinion in a cooperative visual tracking task. The robot, acting as a confederate, would disagree with participants’ responses on certain trials, and suggest a different answer. As constant, staring gaze between strangers is associated with dominance and threat, and averted gaze is associated with lying, we predicted participants would be most likely to be persuaded by a robot which only gazed during disagreements (“situational gaze”). However, gender effects were found, with females least likely to trust a robot which stared at them, and no significant differences between averted gaze and situational gaze. Implications and future work are discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The “shell game”, also known as the “cup game”, involves hiding a small object underneath one of three identical cups, and then quickly moving the cups to create uncertainty as to the object’s true location.

  2. 2.

    For more information about the Nao visit https://www.aldebaran.com.

  3. 3.

    As the robot was programmed to always provide the correct answer on Easy trials, Easy trials are not considered in the analysis. Furthermore, participants gave the correct answer on 93.9% percent of Easy trials, and therefore the robot rarely disagreed with participants on Easy trials.

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Correspondence to Christopher John Stanton.

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Stanton, C.J., Stevens, C.J. Don’t Stare at Me: The Impact of a Humanoid Robot’s Gaze upon Trust During a Cooperative Human–Robot Visual Task. Int J of Soc Robotics 9, 745–753 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-017-0422-y

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Keywords

  • Trust
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Gaze
  • Human–robot interaction