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Social robots may be more persuasive if they project less authority


Pepper is a socially interactive robot used by a team in the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics Lab at U of T Engineering to study persuasion and authority in robot-human interactions. Credit: Liz Do / University of Toronto Engineering

In the future, socially interactive robots could help seniors age in place or assist residents of long-term care facilities with their activities of daily living. But will people actually accept advice or instructions from a robot? A new study from University of Toronto Engineering suggests that the answer hinges on how that robot behaves.

"When robots present themselves as human-like social agents, we tend to play along with that sense of humanity and treat them much like we would a person," says Shane Saunderson, lead author of a new paper published in Science Robotics.

"But even simple tasks, like asking someone to take their medication, have a lot of social depth to them ...


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