Hokkaido University
Center for Human Nature,
Artificial Intelligence,
and Neuroscience


CHAIN Seminar #27 “Adopting the intentional stance towards robots and its impact on mechanisms of social cognition”

Place Online (registration required; follow link at the bottom of this page)
Date Friday, 25th November
Time 5:00-6:30pm (JST)
Language English

In this seminar, Prof. Wykowska (Italian Institute of Technology) will present her group’s research on the “intentional stance” (i.e., prediction and understanding of an object’s behaviour based on the attribution of mental states) people adopt towards artificial agents.

This event is organised by CHAIN, Hokkaido University, and supported by the Toyota Foundation funded project “Pioneering “Artificial Subject Studies”: A New Framework for Advancing Interdisciplinary Studies on the Ideal Form of the Co-Existence Between Human Beings and Artificial Subjects” (D21-ST-0012, PI: Katsunori Miyahara).




Prof. Agnieszka Wykowska
Prof. Agnieszka Wykowska

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.


Prof. Agnieszka Wykowska is PI of the Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction (S4HRI) research line at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). Since May 2017 she leads as PI the ERC Starting Grant “InStance” (Intentional Stance for Social Attunement), carried out at S4HRI, IIT. Her research focuses on social cognitive neuroscience, social human-robot interaction (HRI), and social robotics for healthcare applications. She uses methods of neuro-cognitive psychology in HRI research: behavioral measures (eye tracking, psychophysics) and EEG. She obtained PhD in Psychology (summa cum laude) from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich in 2008. Her background is cognitive neuroscience (M.Sc. in neuro-cognitive psychology, LMU) and philosophy (M.A. in philosophy, Jagiellonian University Krakow, Poland).