Good news, prospective robot overlords: Researchers in Germany have proven that humans do indeed feel empathy for robots. This empathy exists for robots irrespective of their form — a dinosaur-shaped robot and humanoid robot both elicited the same empathetic response.
This finding comes from two separate studies carried out by the University of Duisburg Essen in Germany. The first study asked 40 participants to watch a video where a small dinosaur-shaped robot was either treated violently or affectionately. Their physiological arousal (heart rate, pupil dilation, perspiration) was measured while they watched the video, and they were asked for their emotional state after watching the videos. When the dinobot was treated violently, the participants felt worse and showed more physiological arousal.
By Sebastian Anthony