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Recent research shows that people perceive and treat robots not just as machines, but also as their companions or artificial partners. Person-robot communication, viewed as a complex interactive system (CIS), is based upon three basic principles: interactivity, equifinality, and multimodality. Classification of artificial creatures from the robopsychologist's point of view divides them into two major groups: assisting robots, which are oriented toward industrial, military, research, medical, and service activities, and interactive stimulation robots, which are designed for social, educational, rehabilitation, therapeutic, and entertainment purposes. The latter class is considered the primary subject for the robotic psychology and robotherapy, approaches that have been developed by the authors. These new fields consist of a concept that places the relationships between humans and robots into a psychological, rather than technological, context. Conceptual and experimental results of implementing the robotic psychology and robotherapy concept into the study of human-robot interactions concern basic operational definitions, theoretical framework, and the design of a unified assessment tool named the Person-Robot Complex Interactive Scale (PRCIS). A study with a robotic cat provides the first results of cross-cultural analysis of person-robot communication, as well as findings on the robot's use by children, young and older adults, and elderly persons with dementia.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2004