Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

people hate to watch cute bots getting tortured? We needed a study to prove our empathy?! Who wouldn't be upset if baby robot iCub pictured above were mishandled?!

To quantify our love for R2-D2, two German studies wired-up 40 participants and had them watch a video of dino robot getting petted, then mangled. Participants' vital signs showed stress watching the torture, then they reported being feeling unusually distressed afterwards. In a second study, 14 participants strapped in an fMRI scanner watched videos of the dino robot, a woman and an empty box, all including the empty box being hugged, then tortured. Predictably, the participants were more upset by the video of the woman torture than of the dino bot mishandling. The findings will help devise robots that can help in hospitals or gain acceptance for caring for older people, said researcher Astrid Rosenthal-von der Pütten.


I'm glad people show empathy, but hoping none of participants in this study watched Game of Thrones, not even the kiddie version.

Sources: [livescience, TheAtlantic, Universität Duisburg-Essen] Top image: iCub [dpa via welt.de]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter