Embodied social agents are programmed to display human-like social behaviour to increase intuitiveness of interacting with these agents. It is not yet clear to what extent people respond to agents’ social behaviours. One example is touch. Despite robots’ embodiment and increasing autonomy, the effect of communicative touch has been a mostly overlooked aspect of human-robot interaction. This video-based, 2x2 betweensubject survey experiment (N=119) found that the combination of touch and proactivity influenced whether people saw the robot as machine-like and dependable. Participants’ attitude towards robots in general also influenced perceived closeness between humans and robots. Results show that communicative touch is considered a more appropriate behaviour for proactive agents rather than reactive agents. Also, people that are generally more positive towards robots find robots that interact by touch less machine-like. These effects illustrate that careful consideration is necessary when incorporating social behaviours in agents’ physical interaction design.
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Information Systems [INS]
Human-Centered Data Analytics

Cramer, H., Kemper, N., Amin, A., Evers, V., & Wielinga, B. (2009). ‘Give me a hug': the effects of touch and autonomy on people's responses to embodied social agents. Information Systems [INS]. CWI.