Theory of Mind in Human-Robot-Communication : Appreciated or not?

Benninghoff, Brenda; Kulms, Philipp; Hoffmann, Laura GND; Krämer, Nicole C. GND

Social robots play a more and more important role in our society. For better acceptance and more fluent interactions between humans and robots it is generally assumed that implementing human-like cognitive functions within robots is helpful. A between-subjects experiment (N = 40) was conducted to in-vestigate whether implementing a theory of mind within a humanoid robot will lead to higher acceptance of the robot. Theory of mind is considered one of the most essential prerequisites for interpersonal interac-tion in human-human interaction. Researchers argue that theory of mind enhanced robots capturing other person’s goals, beliefs, feelings, and intentions will perform significantly better. Subjects were presented videos of interactions with a humanoid robot that either possessed or did not possess theory of mind abili-ties. Results indicate subjects acknowledged the fact that a robot showing theory of mind abilities such as perspective taking followed its own intentions; that it understood the way another person behaves; that it was aware of another person’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Accordingly, the robot was rated more sym-pathetic and higher on social attractiveness but not on task attractiveness. Implications of these results as well as limitations are discussed.

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Benninghoff, Brenda / Kulms, Philipp / Hoffmann, Laura / et al: Theory of Mind in Human-Robot-Communication. Appreciated or not?. 2013.

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