The touch of a robotic friend : can a touch of a robot, when the robot and the person have bonded with each other, calm a person down during a stressful moment?

Hout, V.M. van der (2017) The touch of a robotic friend : can a touch of a robot, when the robot and the person have bonded with each other, calm a person down during a stressful moment?

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Abstract:An important form of social behaviour in humans, is touch. A touch has many positive effects on a human’s wellbeing and is also important for the daily social interactions between people. An important effect is that a touch may calm people down during stressful moments, and it has beneficial effects for people who are not touched. A touch is very complex and there are several aspects that influence the experience of a touch, one of them is the relation between people. A touch could be experienced as inappropriate when touched by someone you do not know and just appropriate when a person you know is touching you. Nowadays we live in a world where the use of (social) robots in different areas increases. Social robots are suitable for touch, because of their physical embodiment. This research focuses on the experience of a robot's touch, especially stress-reduction, after a bond is built between the person and the robot. An important question that needs to be answered is whether a touch of a robot can have the same effects as a touch between people. The main question is: can a touch of a robot, when the robot and the person have bonded with each other, calm a person down during a stressful moment. Through a 2 x 2 between subjects factorial design I investigated whether the touch of a robot had a calming effect on a person. The two independent variables were having a bond or not, and to be touched or not. Dependent variables were stress reduction, robot-touch experience, robot perception and the Midas Touch effect. Throughout a thrilling movie, tension was created and the robot tried to soothe the participant verbally and touch, depending on the condition. In total, 67 participants were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions. The results show that it seems possible to create a superficial bond between a robot and a person in a short period of time. But this study found no scientific evidence for any of the examined hypotheses. Also, an alternative bonding variable gave no interaction effect of bond and touch. Another interesting finding was that participants in the bond condition (who were touched by the robot) experienced the touch of the robot less pleasant than the participants in the no bond condition. But with the alternative bonding variable this is the other way around: participants in the bond condition experienced the robot touch more pleaseant than the no bond condition. Potential limitations of this study are small effect sizes for interaction effects of the touch and bond, there were small differences in the data. Also, it is important to take into account that the effect of a robot touch could be different instead of a human touch. Future research should focus on how a robot touch could contribute in a positive way for a human being.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/73221
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