Imitating physiological processes for achieving robot-human social interaction

Marcos Maroto-Gómez, Martín Bueno-Adrada, María Malfaz, Álvaro Castro-González, Miguel Ángel Salichs, Human–robot pair-bonding from a neuroendocrine perspective: Modeling the effect of oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, and dopamine on the social behavior of an autonomous robot, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 176, 2024 DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2024.104687.

Robots and humans coexist in various social environments. In these contexts, robots predominantly serve as assistants, necessitating communication and understanding capabilities. This paper introduces a biologically inspired model grounded on neuroendocrine substances that facilitate the development of social bonds between robots and individuals. The model simulates the effects of oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, and dopamine on social behavior, acting as modulators for bonding in the interaction between the social robot Mini and its users. Neuroendocrine levels vary in response to circadian rhythms and social stimuli perceived by the robot. If users express care for the robot, a positive bond is established, enhancing human–robot interaction by prompting the robot to engage in cooperative actions such as playing or communicating more frequently. Conversely, mistreating the robot leads to a deterioration of the relationship, causing user rejection. An experimenter-robot interaction scenario illustrates the model’s adaptive mechanisms involving three types of profiles: Friendly, Aversive, and Naive. Besides, a user study with 22 participants was conducted to analyze the differences in Attachment, Social Presence, perceived Anthropomorphism, Likability, and User Experience between a robot randomly selecting its behavior and a robot behaving using the bioinspired pair-bonded method proposed in this contribution. The results show how the pair-bonding with the user regulates the robot’s social behavior in response to user actions. The user study reveals statistical differences favoring the robot using the pair-bonding regulation in Attachment and Social Presence. A qualitative study using an interview-like form suggests the positive effects of creating bonds with bioinspired robots.

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