Robot gaze does not reflexively cue human attention


Joint visual attention is a critical aspect of typical human interactions. Psychophysics experiments indicate that people exhibit strong reflexive attention shifts in the direction of another person's gaze, but not in the direction of non-social cues such as arrows. In this experiment, we ask whether robot gaze elicits the same reflexive cueing effect as human gaze. We consider two robots, Zeno and Keepon, to establish whether differences in cueing depend on level of robot anthropomorphism. Using psychophysics methods for measuring attention by analyzing time to identification of a visual probe, we compare attention shifts elicited by five directional stimuli: a photograph of a human face, a line drawing of a human face, Zeno's gaze, Keepon's gaze and an arrow. Results indicate that all stimuli convey directional information, but that robots fail to elicit attentional cueing effects that are evoked by non-robot stimuli, regardless of robot anthropomorphism.

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