Toward Understanding Children’s and Adults’ Encounters with Robotic Others

Gail F. Melson, Alan Beck

While the design of robotic others, also called "social robots," has engaged researchers for some time, only recently have the human implications of interaction with such robots been considered. In this paper, we address how children and adults behave toward and think about the social robot AIBO. Our work is informed by a conceptual framework that draws on constructs within cognitive psychology: the essentialist theory of cognitive development and script. At the same time, our research challenges assumptions of both the essentialist theory of cognitive development and scripts and argues for a more dynamic and complex formulation of these constructs. Four studies of the social robot AIBO conducted by our research team serve to illustrate aspects of this framework. We close by suggesting further questions raised by this work.

Subjects: 6. Computer-Human Interaction; 17. Robotics

Submitted: May 15, 2006


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