Understanding younger and older adults' perceptions of humanoid robots: effects of facial appearance and task
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Although humanoid robots are being designed to assist people in various tasks, there remain gaps in our understanding of the perceptions that humanoid faces evoke in the user. Understanding user perceptions would help design robots that are better suited for the target user group. Younger and older adults’ preferences for robot appearance were assessed out of three levels of human-likeness. In general, people perceived a mixed human-robot appearance less favorably compared to highly human and highly robotic appearances. Additionally the nature of task also influenced people’s overall perceptions of robots. Robots were most positively evaluated for assistance with chores and less positively for personal care and decision-making. Moreover, task and robot humanness had an interactive effect on people’s likability, trust, and perceived usefulness toward robots. Age-related differences in preferences of robot humanness were also observed. Older adults showed a higher inclination toward human-looking appearance of robots whereas younger adults’ preferences were more distributed across the levels of humanness. An appearance with mixed human-robot features was more likely to be rejected by older adults than by younger adults, and the difference was most striking for a decision-making task. Besides the humanness of the robot face, perceptions of robot appearances were also influenced by factors such as robot gender, specific facial features/aesthetics, expressiveness, perceived personality, and perceived capability. Future studies should measure the relative weight of these different factors in the formation of perceptions, both at a global level and at a task-specific level.