Human-like robots inspire more confidence: the test result

How much faith does man have in robots? In an era in which robots have forcefully entered every sector of our life it is right to understand the interaction between man and machine and we can rely on robots. This question was answered by the University of Pisa. The university collaborated with the University of Malaga in London and Jane to carry out an experiment and find answers. The result is that humans trust robots with a human likeness , both physical and vocal . Thanks to the work of the researchers it is possible to understand how much human similarity can influence the triggering of trust but above all it provides information on how to design future robots so that they can have a greater connection with humans.

Human-like robots are given more trust
Human-like robots are given more trust

Human-like robots inspire more confidence

A team made up of behavioral economists and bioengineers from the Pisan university wanted to analyze a theory concerning the connection and relationship between humans and robots. The research involved 160 volunteer students of the university as protagonists. During the experiment that takes its cue from a test ( trust game ) previously carried out by economists Gary Charness and Martin Dufwenberg, the boys were observed interacting in a first phase with another man (resembling the robot), then with a computer and finally with a humanoid robot . Specifically, to analyze the interaction, economists and bioengineers studied the psychophysiological state of the volunteers.

The study, published in Scientific Reports , an important journal of the Nature group, highlighted a result that is as important as it is surprising and innovative. All previous theories stated that man tended to get scared in front of a robot too similar to man, the latest experiment instead denies this knowledge. According to the research team , trust in robots increases in proportion to physical similarity .

The results showed that the participants tend to trust the humanoid robot (and therefore its promises) more than other types of artificial agents and this precisely because of the similarity with humans and the ability to arouse emotions.

Caterina Giannetti, researcher of applied economics at the Pisa University

It can be said that the motivation for greater trust in human-looking robots is to be found in the ability of the latter to arouse emotions and sensations that create greater interconnection with humans.

Humans and robots: In the future, the connection will be stronger and stronger

The trust that man places in the robot is not a negligible aspect or to be underestimated. Robots are replacing humans in numerous fields. In medicine there are now computers equipped with artificial intelligence and robots that can replace our doctors. In the future this perspective will take more and more ground so it is essential that man is able to rely on robotic hands . Trust is the driver for increasing human-machine interaction.

robot and trust
The trust and connection between man and machine increases with the resemblance of the robot to man

The positive outcome of the research involves a greater diffusion of artificial agents and opens the door to the use of robots in particularly critical sectors, for example they can be used to assist people in banks in making decisions , they can be used for entertainment and care of the elderly or can be used in hospitals (medical robots). In the future we will also be able to find them in all those places such as airports and stations to provide information to tourists.

From the economists' point of view, the challenge is certainly to understand how a humanoid robot can impact on relevant economic decisions, considering that artificial agents are now daily involved in many aspects of our life.

Caterina Giannetti, researcher of applied economics at the Pisa University

The article Human-like robots inspire more confidence: Test result comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .