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Researchers are seeing more and more cases of abusive disinhibition towards robots in public realms. Because robots embody gendered identities, poor navigation of antisocial dynamics may reinforce or exacerbate gender-based violence. It is essential that robots deployed in social settings be able to recognize and respond to abuse in a way that minimises ethical risk. Enabling this capability requires designers to first understand the risk posed by abuse of robots, and hence how humans perceive robot-directed abuse. To that end, we experimentally investigated reactions to a physically abusive interaction between a human perpetrator and a victimized agent. Given extensions of gendered biases to robotic agents, as well as associations between an agent’s human likeness and the experiential capacity attributed to it, we quasi-manipulated the victim’s humanness (via use of a human actor vs. NAO robot) and gendering (via inclusion of stereotypically masculine vs. feminine cues in their presentation) across four video-recorded reproductions of the interaction. Analysis of data from 417 participants, each of whom watched one of the four videos, indicates that the intensity of emotional distress felt by an observer is associated with their gender identification, previous experience with victimization, hostile sexism, and support for social stratification, as well as the victim’s gendering.

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2022 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction



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