Let’s break the ice: an experimental investigation of the effect of team building on human-robot interaction
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As the field of mobile robotics advances, autonomous robots are becoming more capable of collaborating with their human counterpart. However, in order to have social robots working alongside in our everyday life, much work remains to be done to improve the social interaction between humans and robots. As a result, we conducted a lab study that experimentally evaluated the effect of a team building intervention on people’s short- and long-term perceptions of a social robot. 61 participants took part in a collaborative quiz game using a commercially available robot, with half of them engaging in a range of team building exercises and the rest simply finishing the game. The exercises included setting goals, clarifying job roles, and developing interpersonal relations. The quiz game was followed by a social interaction, which participants repeated the next week with no exposure to the robot in between. The findings suggest the intervention did not yield to a more positive view of robot or the experiences, and that the perceived robotic traits and the experiences remained stable over time. However, we discovered that individuals who felt more strongly connected with the robot had a more positive perception and interaction experiences, demonstrating the potential benefits of building a cooperative relationship at an early stage of human-robot interaction. The findings offer practical implications for robotic developers to consider incorporate a fun and engaging collaborative game that helps “break the ice” when introducing social robots for the first time. Future research is required to investigate how a collaborative game influences team identification, as well as other team perceptions and cooperative behaviors.