Would a Robot Trust You? Developmental Robotics Model of Trust and Theory of Mind

Samuele Vinanzi, Massimiliano Patacchiola, Antonio Chella, Angelo Cangelosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trust is a critical issue in human - robot interactions: as robotic systems gain complexity, it becomes crucial for them to be able to blend into our society by maximizing their acceptability and reliability. Various studies have examined how trust is attributed by people to robots, but fewer have investigated the opposite scenario, where a robot is the trustor and a human is the trustee. The ability for an agent to evaluate the trustworthiness of its sources of information is particularly useful in joint task situations where people and robots must collaborate to reach shared goals. We propose an artificial cognitive architecture based on the developmental robotics paradigm that can estimate the trustworthiness of its human interactors for the purpose of decision making. This is accomplished using Theory of Mind (ToM), the psychological ability to assign to others beliefs and intentions that can differ from one's owns. Our work is focused on a humanoid robot cognitive architecture that integrates a probabilistic ToM and trust model supported by an episodic memory system. We tested our architecture on an established developmental psychological experiment, achieving the same results obtained by children, thus demonstrating a new method to enhance the quality of human and robot collaborations. This article is part of the theme issue 'From social brains to social robots: applying neurocognitive insights to human - robot interaction'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180032
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1771
Early online date11 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2019


  • trust
  • theory of mind
  • episodic memory
  • cognitive robotics
  • developmental robotics
  • human-robot interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Would a Robot Trust You? Developmental Robotics Model of Trust and Theory of Mind'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this