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7 Oct 2010

Programming Robots to Interact With Extroverts and Introverts

As reported in the November 2, 2009 edition of The New Yorker in the article, Robots That Care, Professor Maja Matarić of the University of Southern California is experimenting with robots caring for stroke and Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children. The major thrust of this work entails programming robots to respond to behavioral cues of patients. One path involved addressing the extroverted-introverted nature of a person. Since many of us have been exposed to a plethora of personality assessment tools and often struggle with how to apply the information, I thought it might help to know how this professor programmed robots to respond to extroverted-introverted people.

When Professor Matarić programmed robots to work with extroverts, she had them:

  • Work closer than the standard distance for a task
  • Speak with a slightly higher pitch
  • Talk quicker
  • Instruct using more forceful words

When she had robots work with introverts, she programmed them to:

  • Work farther away than the standard distance for a task
  • Use fewer gestures
  • Speak with a slightly lower pitch
  • Talk slower
  • Offer more praise
  • Instruct using more soothing words

Additionally, Professor Matarić was able to program robots to “learn” the behavioral style of the person so they could adjust the above parameters depending upon their assessment of the person as an extrovert or introvert. Perhaps, this information will help us to “program” ourselves to work more effectively with the extroverts and introverts in our lives.

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