Examining Social Cognition through Human-Robot Interaction Protocols

14. Mai 2019
CITEC 1.204

In daily lives, we need to predict and understand others’ behaviour in order to efficiently navigate through our social environment.
When making predictions about what others are going to do next, we refer to their mental states, such as beliefs or intentions.
That is, we adopt the intentional stance towards others.

The interesting question is what specific factors (behavior, appearance, social context) make us adopt the intentional stance towards other agents, and how this affects other mechanisms of social cognition.
To answer these questions, we use an artificial embodied agent (the humanoid robot iCub) as "social stimulus" in our protocols in which we test human social cognition.
We use methods of cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology adapted to such interactive protocols. 

Here, I will present results of several experiments in which we examined the impact of various parameters of robot social behavior on the mechanisms of social cognition and the likelihood of adopting the intentional stance.
We examined whether mutual gaze, gaze-contingent robot behavior, or human-likeness of movements influence engagement of mechanisms of social cognition.
Our results show an interesting interaction between more “social” aspects of robot behavior and fundamental processes of human cognition.
The results will be discussed in the context of fundamental research on social cognition, as well as several more general questions that need to be addressed, such as, the societal impact of robots towards whom we attune socially or clinical applications of social robots.