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A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of anthropomorphism in human-robot interaction

Roesler, Eileen; Manzey, Dietrich; Onnasch, Linda

The application of anthropomorphic design features is widely assumed to facilitate human-robot interaction (HRI). However, a considerable number of study results point in the opposite direction. There is currently no comprehensive common ground on the circumstances under which anthropomorphism promotes interaction with robots. Our meta-analysis aims to close this gap. A total of 4856 abstracts were scanned. After an extensive evaluation, 78 studies involving around 6000 participants and 187 effect sizes were included in this meta-analysis. The majority of the studies addressed effects on perceptual aspects of robots. In addition, effects on attitudinal, affective, and behavioral aspects were also investigated. Overall, a medium positive effect size was found, indicating a beneficial effect of anthropomorphic design features on human-related outcomes. However, closer scrutiny of the lowest variable level revealed no positive effect for perceived safety, empathy, and task performance. Moreover, the analysis suggests that positive effects of anthropomorphism depend heavily on various moderators. For example, anthropomorphism was in contrast to other fields of application, constantly facilitating social HRI. The results of this analysis provide insights into how design features can be used to improve the quality of HRI. Moreover, they reveal areas in which more research is needed before any clear conclusions about the effects of anthropomorphic robot design can be drawn.
Published in: Science Robotics, 10.1126/scirobotics.abj5425, AAAS