Washington: Scientists have found that touching a humanoid robot in intimate areas may provoke emotional response in humans.
Researchers from the Stanford University in US conducted an experiment using a human-shaped robot, which was programmed to verbally instruct participants to touch 13 parts of its body.
Participants were fitted with an Affectiva Q-Sensor on the fingers of their non-dominant hand. This measured skin conductance, a measure of physiological arousal, and reaction time of the participant.
The findings showed that when participants were instructed to touch the robot in areas that people usually do not touch, they were more emotionally aroused when compared to touching more accessible parts like the hands and neck.
Participants also were more hesitant to touch intimate parts based on the response times.
A large body of research in communication shows how touch is used as a social "glue" between people—building relationships and influencing trust.
Not as much is known about touch between a person and a robot. Touch has been under examined compared to other aspects of robots, such as its appearance and shape.
"Our work shows that robots are a new form of media that is particularly powerful. It shows that people respond to robots in a primitive, social way," said Jamy Li from Stanford University.
“Social conventions regarding touching someone else's private parts apply to a robot's body parts as well. This research has implications for both robot design and theory of artificial systems," Li said.