Studying laughter in combination with two humanoid robots

AI and Society 26 (3):291-300 (2011)
To let humanoid robots behave socially adequate in a future society, we started to explore laughter as an important para-verbal signal known to influence relationships among humans rather easily. We investigated how the naturalness of various types of laughter in combination with different humanoid robots was judged, first, within a situational context that is suitable for laughter and, second, without describing the situational context. Given the variety of human laughter, do people prefer a certain style for a robot’s laughter? And if yes, how does a robot’s outer appearance affect this preference, if at all? Is this preference independent of the observer’s cultural background? Those participants, who took part in two separate online surveys and were told that the robots would laugh in response to a joke, preferred one type of laughter regardless of the robot type. This result is contrasted by a detailed analysis of two more surveys, which took place during presentations at a Japanese and a German high school, respectively. From the results of these two surveys, interesting intercultural differences in the perceived naturalness of our laughing humanoids can be derived and challenging questions arise that are to be addressed in future research
Keywords Affective computing  Social robots  Human-robot interaction  Para-verbal expressiveness  Laughter
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