Appearance of a robot affects the impact of its behaviour on perceived trustworthiness and empathy
An increasing number of companion robots have started reaching the public in the recent years. These robots vary in their appearance and behavior. Since these two factors can have an impact on lasting human-robot relationships, it is important to understand their effect for companion robots. We have conducted an experiment that evaluated the impact of a robot's appearance and its behaviour in repeated interactions on its perceived empathy, trustworthiness and anxiety experienced by a human. The results indicate that a highly humanlike robot is perceived as less trustworthy and empathic than a more machinelike robot. Moreover, negative behaviour of a machinelike robot reduces its trustworthiness and perceived empathy stronger than for highly humanlike robot. In addition, we found that a robot which disapproves of what a human says can induce anxiety felt towards its communication capabilities. Our findings suggest that more machinelike robots can be more suitable as companions than highly humanlike robots. Moreover, a robot disagreeing with a human interaction partner should be able to provide feedback on its understanding of the partner's message in order to reduce her anxiety.