Humans Love Robots That Make Mistakes: Perfection Prevents Successful Relationships

First Posted: Oct 14, 2015 01:52 PM EDT

Robots aren't perfect. Or maybe they are, at least, programmed to be. Yet new research suggests that humans are less likely to successfully form working relationships with interactive robots if they're never making any mistakes--or might we say, too "robotic."

Researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, found that people are more likely to warm up to interactive robots if they demonstrate human-like ‘cognitive biases', including personality characteristics that come equipped with a bit of imperfection.

In this recent study, researchers examined a number of interactions with human participants between robots ERWIN(Emotional Robot with Intelligent Network) and Keepon. While ERWIN holds the ability to express five basic emotions, Keepon is a small yellow robot that's designed to interact with children.

During half of the interactions, the robots were affected by cognitive biases. However, throughout the remainder of the time, both ERWIN and Keepon made mistakes and showed emotions via noises, verbal abilities and expressions. The participants were then asked to rate their experience regarding the interactions. Results showed that most participants preferred interacting with robots that made mistakes.

"Our research explores how we can make a robot's interactive behaviour more familiar to humans, by introducing imperfections such as judgmental mistakes, wrong assumptions, expressing tiredness or boredom, or getting overexcited," said researcher Mriganka Biswas of the university's School of Computer Science, in a news release. "By developing these cognitive biases in the robots - and in turn making them as imperfect as humans - we have shown that flaws in their ‘characters' help humans to understand, relate to and interact with the robots more easily."

Next, researchers will study whether robots that show cognitive bias in a similar way but also look more human create an even more successful relationship.

More information regarding the study can be found here.

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