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Human Beings Receptive To Emotional Manipulation By Robots: Study

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New Delhi: A recent study by researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, has concluded that human beings are receptive to emotional manipulation by robots. The findings imply towards the fact that humans possess a strong tendency to ‘anthropomorphise’ – an attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities like robots due to which they can easily fall victim to emotional manipulation by robots.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, comprised of a research team involving 89 volunteers who were asked to interact with a robot, under the pretext of helping it become more intelligent and smart. During the interaction, a researcher would ask the volunteers to turn off the robot only to have the robot beg them not to do so. Besides voice requests, the robot were also programmed to show bodily actions supporting their request.

After the interaction, the researchers concluded that 43 of the volunteers were confused whether to follow the researcher’s request and turn off the robot or listen to the robot and not do so. Furthermore, 13 of the volunteers chose to listen to the robot’s request whereas all the others took a much longer time to turn off the robots.

Later on, each of the volunteers was interviewed by the researchers after their interactions with the robot and those who had refused to turn off the robot were asked why. To this, many of the volunteers said that they refused because the robot requested them not to do so. There were others who said that they felt sorry for the robot and thought they will do something wrong if they turn it off.

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