Do robots distract us as much as humans? The effect of human-like appearance and perceptual load
HRI '20: Companion of the 2020 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
IEEE Computer Society
493 - 495
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Attention is an important mechanism for solving certain tasks, but our environment can distract us via irrelevant information. As robots increasingly become part of our lives, one important question is whether they could distract us as much as humans do, and if so to what extent. To address this question, we conducted a study in which subjects were engaged in a central letter detection task. The task irrelevant distractors were pictures of three agents; a mechanical robot, a human-like robot, and a real human. We also manipulated the perceptual load to investigate whether the demands of the task influence how much these agents distract us. Our results show that robots distract people as much as humans, as demonstrated by significant increase in reaction times and decrease in task accuracy in the presence of agent distractors as compared to the situation when there was no distractor. However, we found that the task difficulty interacted with the humanlikeness of the distractor agent. When the task was less demanding, the agent that distracted most was the most humanlike agent, whereas when the task was more demanding, the least human-like agent distracted the most. These results not only provide insights about how to design humanoid robots but also sets as a great example of a fruitful collaboration between humanrobot interaction and cognitive sciences.