Robotics Seminar

  • Professor
  • Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences
  • and Co-DIrector, Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative, Brown University

What People See in a Robot: A New Look at Human-Like Appearance

A long-standing question in HRI is what effects a robot’s human-like appearance has on various psychological responses.  A substantial literature has demonstrated such effects on liking, trust, ascribed intelligence, and so on.  Much of this work has relied on a construct of uni-dimensional low to high human-likeness. I introduce evidence for an alternative view according to which robot appearance must be described in a three-dimensional space, encompassing Body/Manipulators (e.g., torso, arms, legs), Facial Features (e.g., head, eyes), and Surface Look (e.g., eyelashes, skin, genderedness).  The broad human-likeness concept can thus be decomposed into more concrete appearance dimensions, and robots’ degrees of human-likeness are constituted by different combinations of these dimensions. In a study using 24 robots selected from this three-dimensional appearance space, I then show that the different dimensions separately predict inferences people make about the robot’s affective, social-moral, and physical capacities.

Bertram F. Malle is Professor in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences at Brown University and Co-Director of the Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative at Brown. He was trained in psychology, philosophy, and linguistics at the University of Graz, Austria, and received his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1995.  He received the Society of Experimental Social Psychology Outstanding Dissertation award in 1995, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 1997, and he is past president of the Society of Philosophy and Psychology.  Malle’s research, which has been funded by the NSF, Army, Templeton Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and DARPA, focuses on social cognition (e.g., mental state inferences, behavior explanations), moral psychology (e.g., blame, guilt, norms), and human-robot interaction (e.g., morally competent robots, socially assistive robots).

Faculty Host: Aaron Steinfeld

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