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Front Psychol. 2017 May 22;8:724. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00724. eCollection 2017.

Emotional Expression in Simple Line Drawings of a Robot's Face Leads to Higher Offers in the Ultimatum Game.

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Informatics Course, Department of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Gifu UniversityGifu, Japan.


In the present study, we investigated whether expressing emotional states using a simple line drawing to represent a robot's face can serve to elicit altruistic behavior from humans. An experimental investigation was conducted in which human participants interacted with a humanoid robot whose facial expression was shown on an LCD monitor that was mounted as its head (Study 1). Participants were asked to play the ultimatum game, which is usually used to measure human altruistic behavior. All participants were assigned to be the proposer and were instructed to decide their offer within 1 min by controlling a slider bar. The corners of the robot's mouth, as indicated by the line drawing, simply moved upward, or downward depending on the position of the slider bar. The results suggest that the change in the facial expression depicted by a simple line drawing of a face significantly affected the participant's final offer in the ultimatum game. The offers were increased by 13% when subjects were shown contingent changes of facial expression. The results were compared with an experiment in a teleoperation setting in which participants interacted with another person through a computer display showing the same line drawings used in Study 1 (Study 2). The results showed that offers were 15% higher if participants were shown a contingent facial expression change. Together, Studies 1 and 2 indicate that emotional expression in simple line drawings of a robot's face elicits the same higher offer from humans as a human telepresence does.


altruistic behavior; emotion; facial expression; human-robot interaction; robot

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