Fig 1. Experimental room setup

Have you ever caught yourself copying or mirroring the body pose of someone you are in conversation with or noticed that others are copying your body pose? 

What’s that all about? It is well known that this body-pose mirroring is a natural and often subconscious social behaviour that can build rapport, increase empathy and facilitate social interaction. So, if we wanted to build rapport, increase empathy and facilitate social interaction between a robot and a person, then body pose mirroring might be worth investigating.

There have been a number of recent studies that have evaluated the influence of a robot’s non-verbal behaviour on the way humans perceive and interact with them. We recently completed one small study which investigated the effect that upper body mimicry has on how people perceive robots. We did by inviting people to a face-to-face interaction with a Nao robot (Fig 1) and then asking them to complete a questionnaire (GODSPEED). We found that when the robot was mirroring the participants’ upper body pose, the participants rated the robot’s humanness more highly and seemed to experience greater empathy with the robot. 

More details of this study can be found here.

Fuente, L.A., Ierardi, H., Pilling, M. and Crook, N.T., 2015, October. Influence of upper body pose mirroring in human-robot interaction. In International Conference on Social Robotics (pp. 214-223). Springer, Cham.

Fig 2 Some robot body poses