Impolite Robots: The Menace You Never Knew to Fear

Robot holding screen in front of human
Source: Carnegie Mellon University

According to research performed by Carnegie Mellon University, the rather delightful robot presented in the image above can actually be a devastating confidence-crusher for the aspiring gamer.

In the experiments, 200 adult participants played a game against a humanoid robot who would either attempt to encourage them with words of praise, or discourage them. The method of discouragement, of course, came in the form of the most ruthless remarks, such as: ‘Honestly this game is a bad experience’. Cutting.

The results of the research ended up being that trash-talk from robots did indeed impact upon the players’ ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. On the bright side, however, it appears that nice robots have nice impacts. Maybe we all just need a motivational robot in our lives.

Notably, at least a quarter of the participants found themselves humanising the robot. Younger participants were found to humanise the robot in question less, which the paper considered attributing to their generation being used to considering robots to be machinery.

In conclusion, this study provides a very interesting glimpse into the workings of the human mind- and raises the question to all of us of ‘do we take negative criticisms too seriously, especially when they are unbased?’. If allowing the unbased negative criticism of an innocent game robot get into your head can mess with your scores and reasoning, it stands to reason that people must be inconvenienced by this kind of unbased criticism widely in day-to-day life.

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