What do humanoid robots offer to experimental psychology ?

TitleWhat do humanoid robots offer to experimental psychology ?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSteil JJ
EditorDavelaar EJ
Conference NameConnectionist models of neurocognition and emergent behavior : from theory to applications ; proceedings of the 12th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop, Birkbeck, University of London, 8 - 10 April 2010
PublisherWorld Scientific

I discuss challenges and chances offered to cognitive psychology by the recent groundbreaking progress in humanoid robot technology. The focus is on three developments. First, the robots' humanoid appearance in combination with their cognitive capabilities facilitates intuitive interaction with users and causes strong anthropomorphism and encourages the systematic investigation of the human's "theory of robotic mind". Second, experimental investigation of interaction by means of systematic variation of robot behavior provides new approaches to investigate human behavior, which yield methodical challenges. Third, humanoid robots increasingly face similar learning and behavioral problems as humans and their performance can give insights into the structure of such problems. Finally, it has often been argued that compared to computational models robots provide an alternative way of understanding human behavior by means of synthesis of intelligent behavior. I argue that humanoid robots can provide testbeds for hypothesized models, but – regarded as models for cognition – face similar fundamental considerations in their validity from a point of view of philosophy of science as computational models in cognitive psychology do.