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Exploring anthropomorphism's role in the social interaction between individuals with ASD and social robotics

Akwali, Elisha Beatrice Adaeze (2024) Exploring anthropomorphism's role in the social interaction between individuals with ASD and social robotics.

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Abstract:Social robots are seen as aids for improving social interaction among individuals with autism spectrum disorder. As they find it easier to understand social cues from robots than from humans. However, there are worries about the emotional attachments with increasingly lifelike robots. The cognitive system's ability to distinguish between individuals and robots may be challenged. Little is known about how this affects individuals with ASD and there remains a gap in understanding the impact of anthropomorphism on their social interactions with social robots. That is why this qualitative study investigates the impact of varying levels of anthropomorphism in social robots on the social interactions of individuals with ASD. Through semi-structured observations and retrospective interviews, 20 participants, including individuals with (n=10) and without ASD (n=10), interacted with two social robots, each varying in anthropomorphism. Findings reveal that individuals with ASD have the tendency to anthropomorphize and can distinguish between levels of anthropomorphism in social robots. Furthermore, the study suggests that the uncanny valley effect may manifest differently or be less pronounced in individuals with ASD. Both groups of participants demonstrated similar social interactions, favoring the robot with higher anthropomorphism levels. However, motivations differed significantly; individuals with ASD favored the highly anthropomorphic robot for its empathic and human-like qualities, whereas participants without ASD did not. These results underscore the importance of tailoring robot design to accommodate individual preferences, particularly emphasizing empathy, and human-like characteristics for individuals with ASD to enhance their engagement with social robots. Keywords: Anthropomorphism, uncanny valley, social interaction, ASD
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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