My research is motivated by my intrinsic drive to understanding human behavior and the underlying psychological and cognitive processes of these behaviors. Since computer technologies increasingly interact with us through complex and humanlike interfaces, the psychological aspects of our relationships with them comprise an ever more important role. Especially when such technologies present explicit cues of identity or social agency, such as social robots, people will treat these social technologies as social actors. These social robots provide increasingly sophisticated simulations of social entities and are
designed explicitly to provoke social and emotional responses from their users. Regardless of the moral or ethical implications, these social robots will be entering our everyday lives as soon as their abilities are technically feasible for the application in real-world contexts.
- What are the underlying psychological and cognitive processes of people’s social and emotional responses to robots?
- To what extend do these processes during human-robot interactions align with or divert from the processes during human-human interactions?
- What are relevant ethical considerations of these social and emotional responses to robots? And how should these considerations be addressed?
By answering these questions we will learn more about how people socially interact with robots, and whether and how this is actually similar to how people socially interact with other humans. Additionally, we will also gain more insight into people’s social, emotional and cognitive processes during social interactions with different social actors.