Trust Is Key: Social Cues and Human-Robot Interaction

First Posted: Sep 21, 2015 02:55 PM EDT

Robots are being used more and more frequently in today's society, making human-to-robot interaction increasingly more important.

Sometimes they're used as peacekeepers, sometimes they're used as diplomats. One thing that is certain is that there are several factors that are incredibly important in the use of robots to be effective, and number one on that list is trust.

"interactions between machines and people should follow rules of behavior similar to the rules used in human-to-human interaction. Robots are not seen as mindless technology; rather, they are considered agents with intentions," Joachim Meyer, coauthor of "Manners Matter: Trust in Robotic Peacekeepers" and a professor at Tel Aviv University's Department of Industrial Engineering, said according to a release.

In a study conducted by Meyer and Ohad Inbar, 30 participants were told to report their first impressions of a peacekeeping robot, which used varying levels of politeness in its interactions. The robot was asked to inspect participants, as they were attempting to enter a building.

The results showed that the participants' attitudes varied greatly depending on their perception of the robot as polite or threatening. More importantly, the researchers found that age and gender of the participants had little to not effect on this perception.

"A robot who acted rudely toward an older lady was not evaluated more negatively than one with similar behavior toward a young man," Meyer said. "Perhaps our rude robot's behavior was so rude that it overshadowed anything else."

With robots being used more frequently in high-tension situations, especially as peacekeepers, trust and the physical qualities and cultural considerations of the robots are an essential factor in their effectiveness.

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