Study: People Empathize With Robots

Participants in a German study did not react well to videos depicting robot torture.


METHODOLOGY: At the University of Duisburg-Essen, in Germany, researchers made short films depicting robot-human interaction. Half showed a faceless person making nice to a dinosaur robot, the other half depicted scenes of robot torture, in which it was choked, beaten up, sealed in a plastic bag, and dropped. They then showed the videos to 40 subjects and measured their emotional reactions using a skin conductance monitor.

Investigation on Empathy Towards Humans and Robots Using Psychophysiological Measures and fMRI” will be presented at the 63rd Annual International Communication Association Conference.