Humans Prefer Imperfect, Awkward Robots, Study Finds

Fagjun | Published 2017-08-31 19:11


Researchers have found that we like bumbling, awkward robots that make mistakes better than we like robots that work perfectly.


The field of robotics is a quickly-growing one. We can thus expect to interact with more and more robots in the future. To make these interactions as effective as possible, it's important to look at how humans perceive robots and how we're interacting with them now. After all, what's the use of developing robots if it turns out that we don't like them all that much?


You'd think that we'd expect and want robots to be perfect. They're robots, after all. However, a new study has found that people are more partial to awkward robots that make mistakes over robots that behave flawlessly. If the robots make mistakes but are able to read social cues from the humans they're interacting with, then they're apparently preferable to robots that are, well, completely robotic.


Why We Like Awkward Robots More

Why are perfect robots less appealing than less perfect robots?



Researchers purposefully programmed a human-like robot to display faulty behavior. Human participants then interacted with the robot, which allowed the researchers to measure how likable, human-like, and intelligent the robot is. The researchers then used video coding to show the social cues that humans produced whenever the robot made an error.


The participants rated the robot and answered questions from the researchers on what interacting with the robot was like. To the researchers' surprise, they found that participants found the faulty robots to be far more likable than robots that performed perfectly.


According to the researchers, this confirms the Pratfall Effect. The Pratfall Effect states that an individual's attractiveness increases when he or she makes a mistake. This, of course, depends on how well the individual performs in general.


Have you ever heard someone describe a person or thing as “annoyingly perfect”? It may be that we like awkward robots more than perfect ones because they're easier to relate to on a very human level. Humans, after all, make mistakes. We also tend to correct those mistakes based on the social cues we receive from our peers. Thus, if robots interact with us the same way that our peers do, then we may be more comfortable with these interactions.

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