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Affective Touch in Human-Robot Interaction: Conveying Emotion to the Nao Robot

Journal article
Authors R. Andreasson
B. Alenljung
E. Billing
Robert Lowe
Published in International Journal of Social Robotics
Volume 10
Issue 4
Pages 473-491
ISSN 1875-4791
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Pages 473-491
Language en
Keywords Tactile interaction, Affective touch, Human-robot interaction, Emotion encoding, Emotion decoding, tactile interaction, artificial skin, communication, framework, behavior, gender, agents, Robotics
Subject categories Computer and Information Science


Affective touch has a fundamental role in human development, social bonding, and for providing emotional support in interpersonal relationships. We present, what is to our knowledge, the first HRI study of tactile conveyance of both positive and negative emotions (affective touch) on the Nao robot, and based on an experimental set-up from a study of human-human tactile communication. In the present work, participants conveyed eight emotions to a small humanoid robot via touch. We found that female participants conveyed emotions for a longer time, using more varied interaction and touching more regions on the robot's body, compared to male participants. Several differences between emotions were found such that emotions could be classified by the valence of the emotion conveyed, by combining touch amount and duration. Overall, these results show high agreement with those reported for human-human affective tactile communication and could also have impact on the design and placement of tactile sensors on humanoid robots.

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