2022-03-23Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/25770
Humans Can’t Resist Robot Eyes – Reflexive Cueing With Pseudo-Social Stimuli
Joint attention is a key mechanism for humans to coordinate their social behavior. Whether and how this mechanism can benefit the interaction with pseudo-social partners such as robots is not well understood. To investigate the potential use of robot eyes as pseudo-social cues that ease attentional shifts we conducted an online study using a modified spatial cueing paradigm. The cue was either a non-social (arrow), a pseudo-social (two versions of an abstract robot eye), or a social stimulus (photographed human eyes) that was presented either paired (e.g. two eyes) or single (e.g. one eye). The latter was varied to separate two assumed triggers of joint attention: the social nature of the stimulus, and the additional spatial information that is conveyed only by paired stimuli. Results support the assumption that pseudo-social stimuli, in our case abstract robot eyes, have the potential to facilitate human-robot interaction as they trigger reflexive cueing. To our surprise, actual social cues did not evoke reflexive shifts in attention. We suspect that the robot eyes elicited the desired effects because they were human-like enough while at the same time being much easier to perceive than human eyes, due to a design with strong contrasts and clean lines. Moreover, results indicate that for reflexive cueing it does not seem to make a difference if the stimulus is presented single or paired. This might be a first indicator that joint attention depends rather on the stimulus’ social nature or familiarity than its spatial expressiveness. Overall, the study suggests that using paired abstract robot eyes might be a good design practice for fostering a positive perception of a robot and to facilitate joint attention as a precursor for coordinated behavior.
This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.