Adopting the intentional stance towards robots and its impact on mechanisms of social cognition
In daily lives, we need to predict and understand others’ behaviour to efficiently navigate through our social environment. When making predictions about what other humans are going to do next, we refer to their mental states, such as beliefs or intentions. That is, we adopt the intentional stance towards other humans. However, it is not clear whether and when we adopt the intentional stance also towards artificial agents, such as humanoid robots. The interesting question is what specific factors (behavior, appearance, social context) make us adopt the intentional stance towards robots. This talk will provide an overview of our research addressing this question. I will present a tool that we developed for measuring adoption of the intentional stance, and findings showing that the likelihood of adopting the intentional stance is coded in specific patterns of neural activity at rest. Then, I will present studies which suggest that interactive scenarios influence adoption of the intentional stance more than mere observation of subtle human-like characteristics of a robot’s behavior. I will also discuss the relationship between intentional stance and other mechanisms of social cognition. The talk will conclude with the discussion on the role of intentional stance for human-robot interaction in general, and implications for applied domains of social robotics in healthcare.