Dec 16, 2020

Making eye contact with a robot: Psychophysiological responses to eye contact with a human and with a humanoid robot

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Previous research has shown that eye contact, in human-human interaction, elicits increased affective and attention related psychophysiological responses. In the present study, we investigated whether eye contact with a humanoid robot would elicit these responses. Participants were facing a humanoid robot (NAO) or a human partner, both physically present and looking at or away from the participant. The results showed that both in human-robot and human-human condition, eye contact versus averted gaze elicited greater skin conductance responses indexing autonomic arousal, greater facial zygomatic muscle responses (and smaller corrugator responses) associated with positive affect, and greater heart deceleration responses indexing attention allocation. With regard to the skin conductance and zygomatic responses, the human model’s gaze direction had a greater effect on the responses as compared to the robot’s gaze direction. In conclusion, eye contact elicits automatic affective and attentional reactions both when shared with a humanoid robot and with another human.

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