Children Trust Robots Over Humans In Stunning Discovery

By Douglas Helm | Published

If robots ever take over the world, at least the kids will like them. According to a recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior, children were more likely to trust robots and were more accepting when the bots made mistakes. The study was conducted by an international research team with 111 kids between the ages of three and six.

Testing How Children View Information

The research study sought to investigate how kids received information from different sources, considering the vast amount of new knowledge they acquire as they grow up. To test this, the researchers wanted to see what sources kids believed when conflicting information was present. So, the children were divided into different groups and shown videos of both robots and humans labeling objects.

Children Responded Differently To Humans And Robots

The objects in the videos included ones that kids would presumably already be familiar with, along with new objects they wouldn’t know. The children would then see the robots and humans in the video incorrectly label some objects, like calling a table a chair, to create a baseline of reliability. The surprising finding is that the kids were more likely to ask the robots for answers for new objects and assume they were telling the truth, even when both humans and robots were shown to be equally reliable (or unreliable).

Not only that, but children also liked the robots better and chose them when asked who they would want to be friends with, who they would prefer as teachers, and who they’d be willing to share secrets with. One of the researchers also pointed out that making a mistake was viewed differently. While the kids assumed the human was purposefully mislabeling the objects, they chalked it up as a simple mistake if the robot mislabeled something.

Age Of The Children Made A Difference

The variations in the responses also changed based on the age of the kids. Older children were generally more trusting of humans, but this was only the case when the robots were made to appear unreliable comparably. This is a pretty interesting study, and the researchers note that this could have educational applications in the future. However, the study wasn’t comprehensive, and more research is certainly needed to say that kids would rather listen to robots than humans.

Children Are Exposed To More Technology Than Ever Before

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Future studies could use live interactions rather than videos and more prompts to understand why the children preferred the robots. It would also be interesting to know how much the children are exposed to technology in their households. More than any generation before, kids growing up in the modern era are constantly surrounded by technology.

Future Studies Required

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With children being surrounded by technology and using it from such early ages, it wouldn’t be surprising if future generations were more trusting of robots over humans when it comes to learning. Many people already turn to AI for numerous tasks and questions, and it’s fair to say it’s still at a fairly early stage – at least in mainstream usage. It’ll be interesting to see if these findings continue to hold true in future studies of this subject.

Source: Computers and Human Behavior