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Robot Peer Pressure

August 16, 2018

Can robots exert peer pressure, influencing people’s decisions?



Robot peer pressure. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Growing up, many of us were warned against succumbing to peer pressure from other kids. But as interactions with robots become more commonplace, could they influence our decisions as well? Ghent University researcher Tony Belpaeme and his team had children and adults answer extremely easy questions in the presence of cute humanoid robots. Sometimes, a robot would suggest an incorrect answer.

TONY BELPAEME (Ghent University, University of Plymouth):

If you give the wrong answer, then we know that you are socially conforming to robots. And it turns out that adults are not sensitive to peer pressure from robots, but children are.   


Belpaeme’s team reports in Science Robotics that 74% of children’s incorrect answers matched those suggested by the robots. He says that as robots become a bigger part of our daily lives, it will be important to understand their potential to affect kid’s choices. I’m Bob hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard