Prior work has demonstrated that a robot’s social behavior has the ability to shape people’s trust toward, responses to, and impressions of a robot within human–robot interactions. However, when the context changes to interactions within a group involving one robot and multiple people, the influence of the robot on group behavior is less well understood. In this work, we explore how a social robot influences team engagement using an experimental design where a group of three humans and one robot plays a collaborative game. Our analysis shows that a robot’s social behavior influences the conversational dynamics between human members of the human–robot group, demonstrating the ability of a robot to significantly shape human–human interaction.Abstract
Social robots are becoming increasingly influential in shaping the behavior of humans with whom they interact. Here, we examine how the actions of a social robot can influence human-to-human communication, and not just robot–human communication, using groups of three humans and one robot playing 30 rounds of a collaborative game (n = 51 groups). We find that people in groups with a robot making vulnerable statements converse substantially more with each other, distribute their conversation somewhat more equally, and perceive their groups more positively compared to control groups with a robot that either makes neutral statements or no statements at the end of each round. Shifts in robot speech have the power not only to affect how people interact with robots, but also how people interact with each other, offering the prospect for modifying social interactions via the introduction of artificial agents into hybrid systems of humans and machines.