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What encourages people to refer to a robot as if it was a living being? Is it because of the robot’s humanoid or animal-like shape, its movements or rather the kind of inter- action it enables? We aim to investigate robots’ characteristics that lead people to anthropomorphize it by comparing different kinds of robotic devices and contrasting it to an interactive technology. We addressed this question by comparing anthro- pomorphic language in online forums about the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, the AIBO robotic dog, and the iPad tablet computer. A content analysis of 750 postings was carried out. We expected to find the highest amount of anthropomorphism in the AIBO forum but were not sure about how far people referred to Roomba or the iPad as a lifelike artifact. Findings suggest that people anthropomorphize their robotic dog signifi- cantly more than their Roomba or iPad, across different topics of forum posts. Further, the topic of the post had a significant impact on anthropomorphic language.
In this literature review we explain anthropomorphism and its role in the design of socially interactive robots and human-robot interaction. We illus-trate the social phenomenon of anthropomorphism which describes people’s tendency to attribute lifelike qualities to objects and other non lifelike artifacts. We present theoretical backgrounds from social sciences, and integrate related work from robotics research, including results from experiments with social ro-bots. We present different approaches for anthropomorphic and humanlike form in a robot’s design related to its physical shape, its behavior, and its interaction with humans. This review provides a comprehensive understanding of anthro-pomorphism in robotics, collects and reports relevant references, and gives an outlook on anthropomorphic human-robot interaction.
Personal service robots, such as the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner provide a promising opportunity to study human-robot interaction (HRI) in domestic environments. Still rather little is known about long-term impacts of robotic home appliances on people’s daily routines and attitudes and how they evolve over time. We investigate these aspects through a longitudinal ethnographic study with nine households, to which we gave a Roomba cleaning robot. During six months, data is gathered through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.