Following the COVID-19 pandemic, robots, including educational support robots used in schools and the robot waitstaff in restaurants, have become more accessible. Group Leader Masahiro Shiomi of the Agent Interaction Design Lab at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) conducted an experiment to investigate the effects of human−robot interactions on people.
First, his research team compared the effects on human participants when robots responded to monotonous tasks performed by participants with (1) polite, (2) neutral, or (3) impolite encouragement. The results indicated that (1) and (3) led to similar performance improvements; however, (3) increased anxiety among the participants. Furthermore, the participants praised by the robots through polite encouragement tended to praise other participants to a greater extent, and those provoked through impolite encouragement by the robots stopped complimenting the other participants.
The research team also studied participant reactions when a robot assistant apologized for accidentally dropping their order. They generated a video depicting two scenes, one where a single robot apologized and another where two robots apologized together and conducted a web-based survey. The results revealed that the participants found the apology to be more acceptable and perceived the robots as more competent when two robots apologized together compared to when a single robot apologized alone. Among the cases wherein only the second robot apologized (A), prepared to clean up (B), or prepared to clean up after offering an apology (C), case (C) was evaluated most favorably.
These results confirm that even artificial objects, such as robots, can influence human emotions and behavior. These insights are expected to aid in improving the people's performance and sense of security of a society as a whole by propagating and circulating compliments through robots, as well as in designing a society facilitating the coexistence of robots and humans.
Publication: International Journal of Social Robotics
Title: Is Politeness Better than Impoliteness? Comparisons of Robot's Encouragement Effects Toward Performance, Moods, and Propagation