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Humans Get ‘Aroused’ Touching Robot’s Intimates, New Study Shows [Video]

Apr 07, 2016 05:15 AM EDT
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Touch can mean a lot of things and express lots of emotion.

In a study from UC Berkeley, Prof. Dacher Keltner said touch "provides its own language of compassion, a language that is essential to what it means to be human."

Touching others has been given great significance in building up relationships, but a recent study suggests that touching a robot can also elicit an emotional response in humans.

According to the study conducted by Jamy Li, Wendy Ju, and Byron Reeves from Stanford University, being asked by a robot to be touched in its intimate areas can draw out physiological arousal in humans.

The study was performed using an Aldebaran Robotics' NAO human-shaped robot that was programmed to verbally instruct participants to point or touch 13 "body parts" with their dominant hand.

Ten healthy volunteers participated in the study.

An Affectiva Q-Sensor was fitted in the non-dominant hand of the participants to measure skin conductance, a measure of physiological arousal.

According to a Washington Post report, when humans are exposed to something arousing, their sweat glands fill and their skin conductance increases.

The response time or how long it takes for the participant to react to the robot's instructions was recorded.

The researchers found out that when the participants were instructed to touch body parts that are not usually being touched in humans elicited more emotions, compared to touching more accessible parts such as the hands and the neck.

They also discovered that 90 percent of the participants get more aroused as the body parts they touched got more intimate.

It also took longer for about 8o percent of the participants to react when they were instructed to touch the intimate parts of the robot.

In a press release, researchers said robots are also affected by the social convention regarding touching someone else's private regions.

"People respond to robots in a primitive, social way," Li said.

The study will be presented at the 66th Annual International Communication Association Conference, in Fukuoka, Japan in June.

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