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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 28;8(8):e72589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072589. eCollection 2013.

Robots with display screens: a robot with a more humanlike face display is perceived to have more mind and a better personality.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


It is important for robot designers to know how to make robots that interact effectively with humans. One key dimension is robot appearance and in particular how humanlike the robot should be. Uncanny Valley theory suggests that robots look uncanny when their appearance approaches, but is not absolutely, human. An underlying mechanism may be that appearance affects users' perceptions of the robot's personality and mind. This study aimed to investigate how robot facial appearance affected perceptions of the robot's mind, personality and eeriness. A repeated measures experiment was conducted. 30 participants (14 females and 16 males, mean age 22.5 years) interacted with a Peoplebot healthcare robot under three conditions in a randomized order: the robot had either a humanlike face, silver face, or no-face on its display screen. Each time, the robot assisted the participant to take his/her blood pressure. Participants rated the robot's mind, personality, and eeriness in each condition. The robot with the humanlike face display was most preferred, rated as having most mind, being most humanlike, alive, sociable and amiable. The robot with the silver face display was least preferred, rated most eerie, moderate in mind, humanlikeness and amiability. The robot with the no-face display was rated least sociable and amiable. There was no difference in blood pressure readings between the robots with different face displays. Higher ratings of eeriness were related to impressions of the robot with the humanlike face display being less amiable, less sociable and less trustworthy. These results suggest that the more humanlike a healthcare robot's face display is, the more people attribute mind and positive personality characteristics to it. Eeriness was related to negative impressions of the robot's personality. Designers should be aware that the face on a robot's display screen can affect both the perceived mind and personality of the robot.

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