Can Children Catch Curiosity from a Social Robot?

Gordon, G., Breazeal, C., Engel, S.


Curiosity is key to learning, yet school children show wide variability in their eagerness to acquire information. Recent research suggests that other people have a strong influence on children's exploratory behavior. Would a curious robot elicit children's exploration and the desire to find out new things? In order to answer this question we designed a novel experimental paradigm in which a child plays an education tablet app with an autonomous social robot, which is portrayed as a younger peer. We manipulated the robot's behavior to be either curiosity-driven or not and measured the child's curiosity after the interaction. We show that some of the child's curiosity measures are significantly higher after interacting with a curious robot, compared to a non-curious one, while others do not. These results suggest that interacting with an autonomous social curious robot can selectively guide and promote children's curiosity.

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