Unraveling Pro-Social Dynamics in Human-Robot Interactions

This project focuses on investigating the intricate pro-social dynamics emerging between humans and robots, especially when robots do not conform to our presuppositions of social norms. As robots become integral to our daily lives, understanding the mechanisms and implications of cooperation, trusts, and perception of agency when robots fail to act socially appropriately becomes paramount.

Drawing on insights from psychology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and social sciences, we explore the psychological foundations of pro-sociality in human-robot interactions. We delve into the role of anthropomorphism, trust-building, and emotional cues in fostering empathy, trust, and pro-social behaviors towards robots.

Moreover, we examine how robots can be designed and programmed to elicit pro-social responses from humans. In practical scenarios, companion robots might encounter individuals who lose interest in doing their exercises at home as the initial novelty of the robots fades over time. To address this issue, it is valuable to comprehend which robot actions can effectively stimulate pro-social qualities in humans when the standard pre-programmed behaviors no longer motivate them. This knowledge enables the robot to employ distinct actions that can rekindle people’s motivation to complete their exercises, even if they view the robot as an annoyance.

This project contributes to our understanding of pro-social dynamics between humans and robots, offering insights into designing, deploying, and regulating robotic systems for cooperative, empathetic, and mutually beneficial interactions especially when robots elicit non-prosocial behaviors. Ultimately, it highlights the potential of designing robots to be better collaborators with humans.