Children’s opinions can be shaped by robots

While adults often have their opinions influenced by peers, they are largely able to resist being persuaded by robots. Children aged between seven and nine were more likely to give the same answers as the robots, even if they were visibly incorrect.

The study used the Asch paradigm, first developed in the 1950s, which asks people to look at a screen showing four lines and say which two match in length. When alone, people almost never make a mistake but when doing the experiment with others, they tend to follow what others are saying.

The study was conducted by researchers from University of Bielefeld, the University of Plymouth and Ghent University. They have worked extensively to explore the positive impact robots can have in health and education settings. According on one of them, a discussion is vital about whether protective measures, such as a regulatory framework, is needed to reduce the risk to children through social child-robot interaction such that they do not adversely affect the likely progress of the field.

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