How to Creep Out Chimpanzees with a Humanoid Robot Doll

Chimpanzees, in general, have less experience with creepy humanoid robot dolls than humans do. This study perhaps reflects that:

Triggering social interactions: chimpanzees respond to imitation by a humanoid robot and request responses from it,” Marina Davila-Ross, Johanna Hutchinson, Jamie L. Russell, Jennifer Schaeffer, Aude Billard, William D. Hopkins, Kim A. Bard,” Animal Cognition, Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2014, pp 589-595. (Thanks to investigator Mark Relyea for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Portsmouth,UK, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA, USA, the Neuroscience Institute and Language Research Center, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA, and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, report:

“The chimpanzees predominantly gazed at the robot throughout the experimental session, indicating high interest/ curiosity, and they also alternated gaze, perhaps to seek information from the assistant about this ambiguous agent.”

Here’s further detail from the study:


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