Improved Cognitive Control in Presence of Anthropomorphized Robots

  • Nicolas SpatolaEmail author
  • Clément Belletier
  • Pierre Chausse
  • Maria Augustinova
  • Alice Normand
  • Vincent Barra
  • Ludovic FerrandEmail author
  • Pascal Huguet


There is evidence that attentional control mechanisms in humans can be boosted in performance contexts involving the presence of other human agents, compared with isolation. This phenomenon was investigated here with the presence of artificial agents, that is, humanoid robots in the context of the well-known Stroop task requiring attentional control for successful performance. We expected and found beneficial effects of robotic presence (compared with isolation) on standard Stroop performance and response conflict resolution (a specific component of Stroop performance) exclusively when robotic presence triggered anthropomorphic inferences based on prior verbal interactions with the robot (a social robot condition contrasted with the presence of the same robot without any prior interactions). Participants’ anthropomorphic inferences about the social robot actually mediated its influence on attentional control, indicating the social nature of this influence. These findings provide further reasons to pay special attention to human–robot interactions and open new avenues of research in social robotics.


Social facilitation Anthropomorphized robots Human–robot interaction Cognitive control Stroop task 



This work was supported by a Grant (Social_Robot_2017-2018) from the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH), Clermont-Ferrand, France.


This study was funded by a Grant (Social_Robot_2017-2018) awarded to all authors from the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH), Clermont-Ferrand, France.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

This study was approved by the Clermont-Ferrand Sud-Est 6 Statutory Ethics Committee (Comité de Protection des Personnes (CPP) Sud-Est 6, France; Authorization # 2016/CE 105) and was carried out in accordance with the provisions of the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki.

Open Practices

Mean reaction time data (for each participant and each condition) are publicly available via the Open Science Framework and can be accessed at


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Clermont Auvergne, CNRS, LAPSCOClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Psychologie du Développement CognitifUniversité de FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  3. 3.CRFDP (EA 7475)Université de Rouen NormandieRouenFrance
  4. 4.Université Clermont Auvergne, CNRS, LIMOSClermont-FerrandFrance

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