Do We Need Emotionally Intelligent Artificial Agents? First Results of Human Perceptions of Emotional Intelligence in Humans Compared to Robots

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10498)


Humans are very apt at reading emotional signals in other humans and even artificial agents, which raises the question of whether artificial agents need to be emotionally intelligent to ensure effective social interactions. For artificial agents without emotional intelligence might generate behavior that is misinterpreted, unexpected, and confusing to humans, violating human expectations and possibly causing emotional harm. Surprisingly, there is a dearth of investigations aimed at understanding the extent to which artificial agents need emotional intelligence for successful interactions. Here, we present the first study in the perception of emotional intelligence (EI) in robots vs. humans. The objective was to determine whether people viewed robots as more or less emotionally intelligent when exhibiting similar behaviors as humans, and to investigate which verbal and nonverbal communication methods were most crucial for human observational judgments. Study participants were shown a scene in which either a robot or a human behaved with either high or low empathy, and then they were asked to evaluate the agent’s emotional intelligence and trustworthiness. The results showed that participants could consistently distinguish the high EI condition from the low EI condition regardless of the variations in which communication methods were observed, and that whether the agent was a robot or human had no effect on the perception. We also found that relative to low EI high EI conditions led to greater trust in the agent, which implies that we must design robots to be emotionally intelligent if we wish for users to trust them.


Human-robot interaction Emotional intelligence Empathetic robot 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human-Robot Interaction LabTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.The MITRE CoorporationBedfordUSA

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