The Impact of Social Expectation towards Robots on Human-Robot Interactions
Syrdal, Dag Sverre
This work is presented in defence of the thesis that it is possible to measure the social expectations and perceptions that humans have of robots in an explicit and succinct manner, and these measures are related to how humans interact with, and evaluate, these robots. There are many ways of understanding how humans may respond to, or reason about, robots as social actors, but the approach that was adopted within this body of work was one which focused on interaction-specific expectations, rather than expectations regarding the true nature of the robot. These expectations were investigated using a questionnaire-based tool, the University of Hertfordshire Social Roles Questionnaire, which was developed as part of the work presented in this thesis and tested on a sample of 400 visitors to an exhibition in the Science Gallery in Dublin. This study suggested that responses to this questionnaire loaded on two main dimensions, one which related to the degree of social equality the participants expected the interactions with the robots to have, and the other was related to the degree of control they expected to exert upon the robots within the interaction. A single item, related to pet-like interactions, loaded on both and was considered a separate, third dimension. This questionnaire was deployed as part of a proxemics study, which found that the degree to which participants accepted particular proxemics behaviours was correlated with initial social expectations of the robot. If participants expected the robot to be more of a social equal, then the participants preferred the robot to approach from the front, while participants who viewed the robot more as a tool preferred it to approach from a less obtrusive angle. The questionnaire was also deployed in two long-term studies. In the first study, which involved one interaction a week over a period of two months, participant social expectations of the robots prior to the beginning of the study, not only impacted how participants evaluated open-ended interactions with the robots throughout the two-month period, but also how they collaborated with the robots in task-oriented interactions as well. In the second study, participants interacted with the robots twice a week over a period of 6 weeks. This study replicated the findings of the previous study, in that initial expectations impacted evaluations of interactions throughout the long-term study. In addition, this study used the questionnaire to measure post-interaction perceptions of the robots in terms of social expectations. The results from these suggest that while initial social expectations of robots impact how participants evaluate the robots in terms of interactional outcomes, social perceptions of robots are more closely related to the social/affective experience of the interaction.
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