Researchers Use Robots to Study Human Trust

Researchers Use Robots to Study Human Trust


What happens when psychologists and roboticists get together? Well, apparently they create trustworthy robots.

Why do we trust people? An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Northeastern, MIT and Cornell universities in the US believes that it's down to subtle non-verbal cues that we pick up on as we interact with people, and has created a wide-eyed robot to try and find out exactly which gestures help us decide whether a person is trustworthy or not.

Human participants make small talk with the team's social robot, Nexi, for ten minutes, and then play a game called "Give Some," where they have to decide how much money Nexi might give them at the expense of her personal profit, and conversely how much money they want to give her. What the participants don't know is that Nexi is programmed to make specific gestures during the conversation portion of the test to try and determine how those gestures affect how trustworthy she is perceived to be.

"People tend to mimic each other's body language, which might help them develop intuitions about what other people are feeling - intuitions about whether they'll treat them fairly," said David DeStano, a psychology professor at Northeastern. "Using a humanoid robot whose every expression and gesture we can control will allow us to better identify the exact cues and psychological processes that underlie humans' ability to accurately predict if a stranger is trustworthy."

"The goal was to simulate a normal conversation with accompanying movements to see what the mind would intuitively glean about the trustworthiness of another," said DeSteno. "Trust might not be determined by one isolated gesture, but rather a 'dance' that happens between the strangers."

Aside from simply fascinating in its own right, there's a lot of interesting things you could do with this research. A more complete understanding of how we express ourselves non-verbally could go a long way to overcoming the uncanny valley effect, although infiltrator droids using it against us will obviously remain a concern.

Source: Northeastern via io9


I tried to read this article, but I had this song stuck in my head as soon as I saw the picure:-

The robots eyes scare me...

An intrestign experiment though, and, im definetly curious to hear the results


So what were the findings from the study? Hard to feel excited about research without any indication of the results...

Oh god the eyes just keep staring at me....

I think I would find it hard to trust something that creepy anyway but I guess the results will be interesting.

I wonder how many people will just flee as soon as they see it?

If I came across that robot upon first meeting, I'd be trying to destroy it. That thing is not supposed to be hear!

Considering I don't trust my toaster why would I trust a robot O_O!

Go ahead scientists give the robots another weapon to use in the Robogeddon.

Those eyes are so creepy.

Im not going to trust a robot, its fucking creepy.

I like this project. All they need to add is a Portal gun and a sadistic AI to drive the test subjects crazy. Can you kill your Companion Cube?

I do not trust that robot. It has a creepy face.

Dear lord. That robot.

Kill it. Kill it with fire.

Some people might genuinely never trust a robot because their perceptions keep telling's just a robot!

Though this might work on people, who are quicker to give in to the whole spectacle of the show, it'll probably tank on cynics or introverts.

Logan Westbrook:

Did they have to make it scary as crap?

Trust Fall!

All I can think of after seeing that robot.

Logan Westbrook:
although infiltrator droids using against us will obviously remain a concern.

Either there's a missing word in that last bit of the sentence, or using is in the wrong place, because that doesn't track.

COuldn't they do a similar project for much less using some sort of NPC of science? Are we going to get in-game NPCs that respond to these results?

I'm not trusting THAT robot. It's got them creepy eyes.

Saddest part is that three thoughts went through my head the moment I laid my eyes upon this story.

1) Use Robots to Study Human Trust? Isn't that just a bit redundant?



Does it seem a little overboard to employ the cost of a robot for this experiment? Johnny 5 there had to run at least a hundred grand, just to gamble with people to study their reactions (if I understand the concept of the study right). Science couldn't do this with a simple program on a screen? Just another excuse to let SkyNet figure us out better... to make them more efficient killers in the future and to get past the dogs!
That robot was hella creepy. Do you think it was water-proof? If I didn't trust someone, I'd be just as inclined to pee on them than not trust them.

all that i think is trying to break it by saying things like Subroutine alpha Beta Gamma or something lol.


what they did NOT say / what´s not shown on the picture is that the Robot is actually 20meters tall.

and here is another robotic human imitator to freak you out: (NOT Gillian Anderson, the OTHER one)

The first thing he thought of was the uncanny valley.

It's simple just build a robot copy of Tom Hanks.

So not only is Skynet gonna kill us all, we're going to trust them while they do it? D:

We're doooooomed!

The robot is kinda scary... I probably wouldn't trust it, but then I barely trust anyone =P


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