Hideki Garcia Goo and Katie Winkle and Tom Williams and Megan Strait


IEEE International Symposium on Robot-Human Interactive Communication

Publication Year

With the deployment of robots in public realms, researchers are seeing more and more cases of abusive disinhibition towards robots. Because robots embody gendered identities, poor navigation of antisocial dynamics may reinforce or exacerbate gender-based violence. Robots deployed in social settings must recognize and respond to abuse in a way that minimizes ethical risk. This will require designers to first understand the risk posed by abuse of robots, and how humans perceive robot-directed abuse. To that end, we conducted an exploratory study of reactions to a physically abusive interaction between a human perpetrator and a victimized agent. Given extensions of gendered biases to robotic agents, as well as associations between an agent’s human likeness and the experiential capacity attributed to it, we quasi-manipulated the victim’s humanness (via use of a human actor vs. NAO robot) and gendering (via inclusion of stereotypically masculine vs. feminine cues in their presentation) across four video-recorded reproductions of the interaction. Analysis of data from 417 participants, each of whom watched one of the four videos, indicates that the intensity of emotional distress felt by an observer is associated with their gender identification, previous experience with victimization, hostile sexism, and support for social stratification, as well as the victim’s gendering.