Subjective ratings of robot video clips for human likeness, familiarity, and eeriness: An exploration of the uncanny valley

  • MacDorman K
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Abstract

Masahiro Mori observed that as robots come to look more humanlike, they seem more familiar, until a point is reached at which subtle deviations from human norms cause them to look creepy. He referred to this dip in fa- miliarity and corresponding surge in strangeness as the uncanny valley. The eerie sensation associated with a mismatch between human expectations and a robot’s behavior provides a useful source of feedback to improve the cognitive models implemented in the robot. Is the uncanny valley a necessary property of near-humanlike forms? This paper contributes to ongoing work in un- derstanding the nature and causes of the uncanny valley by means of an experiment: 56 participants were asked to rate 13 robots and 1 human, shown in video clips, on a very mechanical (1) to very humanlike (9) scale, a very strange (1) to very familiar (9) scale, and a not eerie (0) to extremely eerie (10) scale. Contrary to earlier studies with morphs [MacDorman and Ishiguro, 2006], plots of average and median values for ratings on these scales do not reveal a single U-shaped valley as predicted by Mori’s uncanny valley hypothesis [1970], although his hypothesis allows for some variation owing tomovement. Robots rated similarly on the mechanical versus human- like scale can be rated quite differently on the strange versus familiar or the eeriness scales. The results in- dicate that the perceived human likeness of a robot is not the only factor determining the perceived familiarity, strangeness, or eeriness of the robot. This suggests that other factors could be manipulated to vary the familiar- ity, strangeness, or eeriness of a robot independently of its

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Authors

  • Kf MacDorman

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