Shared Knowledge in Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)

Miraglia Laura, Cinzia Di Dio, Federico Manzi, Kanda Takayuki, Angelo Cangelosi, Itakura Shoji, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Davide Massaro, Peter Fonagy, Antonella Marchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to the Theory of Natural Pedagogy, object-directed emotion may provide differentinformation depending on the context: in a communicative context, the information conveysculturally shared knowledge regarding the emotional valence of an object and is generalizable to otherindividuals, whereas, in a non-communicative context, information is interpreted as a subjectivedisposition of the person expressing the emotion, i.e., personal preference. We hypothesized that thisgenericity bias, already present in infants, may be a feature of human communication and, thus,present at all ages. We further questioned the effects of robotic ostensive cues. To explore thesepossibilities, we presented object-directed emotions in communicative and non-communicativecontexts under two conditions: adult participants (N = 193) were split into those who underwent thehuman-demonstrator condition and those who underwent the robot-demonstrator condition, i.e., ahuman actor or a robot displayed object-directed emotions, respectively. Questionnaires furtherassessed the participants’ attachment style and mentalization ability. The results showed that 1)Natural Pedagogy Theory applies to humans across the lifespan; 2) Shared knowledge depends onthe contexts (communicative vs. non-communicative) and who is sharing the information (human orrobot); and 3) robotic ostensive cues trigger participants’ attention, conversely, in their absence,participantsdo not turn the robot into a communicative partner by not assigning it a communicativeintention dueto a difficulty in reading the robot’s mind. Taken together, our findings indicate thatrobotic ostensivecues may ease the human-robot interaction (HRI), which is also biased by the human attachment style.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jul 2023


  • Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)
  • Natural Pedagogy Theory
  • Shared Knowledge
  • social cognition
  • attachment style


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