Humans are a social species; many of our perceptual and cognitive systems are tuned to understand and respond to other people in social situations. One measure of these social connections is the extent to which we empathise with others’ pain. The ability to empathise with other humans is well studied, but one emerging avenue is investigating how (and indeed if) people can use these same systems to empathise with non-human robots. If they can, what forms of empathy can humans extend to robots? Moreover, what features of robots – or experiences with robots – might alter the empathetic response.
1. Do people experience pain resonance when observing robots, and if so, is it stronger or weaker when comparing to their resonance with other humans?
2. Is the degree of “human-likeness” driving the extent of any resonance?
3. How can other factors, such as your previous experience with the robot, influence empathy in the form of pin resonance?