Human vs Humanoid. A Behavioral Investigation of the Individual Tendency to Adopt the Intentional Stance

Serena Marchesi, Nicolas Spatola, Jairo Perez-Osorio, Agnieszka Wykowska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Humans interpret and predict behavior of others with reference to mental states or, in other words, by adopting the intentional stance. The present study investigated to what extent individuals adopt the intentional stance towards two agents (a humanoid robot and a human). We asked participants to judge whether two different descriptions fit the behaviors of the robot/human displayed in photographic scenarios. We measured acceptance/rejection rate of the descriptions (as an explicit measure) and response times in making the judgment (as an implicit measure). Our results show that at the explicit level, participants are more likely to use mentalistic descriptions for the human agent and mechanistic descriptions for the robot. Interestingly, at the implicit level, we found no difference in response times associated with the robotic agent. We argue that, at the implicit level, both stances are processed as "equally likely" to explain the behavior of a humanoid robot, while at the explicit level there is an asymmetry in the adopted stance. Furthermore, cluster analysis on participants' individual differences in anthropomorphism likelihood revealed that people with a high tendency to anthropomorphize tend to accept faster the mentalistic description. This suggests that the decisional process leading to adoption of one or the other stance to adopt is influenced by individual tendency to anthropomorphize non-human agents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2021 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI '21), pp. 332-340
Subtitle of host publicationHRI'21
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Human vs Humanoid. A Behavioral Investigation of the Individual Tendency to Adopt the Intentional Stance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this