Anthropomorphism and Robotics: How the design of robots will affect human and artificial intelligence interactions


As humans, we have a natural tendency to give non-human things names and intentions.  For example, I know that many individuals give their car a name.  In high school, I named my 1989 Pontiac 6000, “Sharon”, after famous actress Sharon Stone, who I had a crush on at the time (okay, may still have a crush on).  When hurricane season hits the United States, we give the tropical storms and hurricanes names.  The recent winter storm that hit the east coast of the United States was named “Grayson”.  During “Winter Storm Grayson”, a headline on (shown upper-right) even attributed eight deaths to Grayson, as if it was a person who had committed a violent crime.  We look up at the sky, shake our fists, and curse the actions of storms and other non-human objects, much like we might do to another person.

This human tendency is called anthropomorphism.  By definition, anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is a part of our natural human psychology, and it will play an even bigger role as the advancement of robots accelerates.


In fact, anthropomorphism is being strongly considered as robots are being designed.  The more human-looking a robot is, the more we humans will attempt to connect with the robot, specifically on an emotional level.

I am very interested in this topic and something I am watching very closely.  If you are interested in learning more about what researchers are working on in regards to anthropomorphism and robotics, I have included some links below to check out.


Anthropomorphism and Robotics - Brian R. Duffy

Anthropomorphism and Human Likeness in the Design of Robots and Human-Robot Interaction - Julia Fink

The Interactive Effects of Robot Anthropomorphism and Robot Ability on Perceived Threat and Support for Robotics Research - Kumar Yogeeswaran