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Remote Control and Children's Understanding of Robots

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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology Volume 109, Number 2, ISSN 0022-0965


Children use goal-directed motion to classify agents as living things from early in infancy. In the current study, we asked whether preschoolers are flexible in their application of this criterion by introducing them to robots that engaged in goal-directed motion. In one case the robot appeared to move fully autonomously, and in the other case it was controlled by a remote. We found that 4- and 5-year-olds attributed fewer living thing properties to the robot after seeing it controlled by a remote, suggesting that they are flexible in their application of the goal-directed motion criterion in the face of conflicting evidence of living thing status. Children can flexibly incorporate internal causes for an agent's behavior to enrich their understanding of novel agents. (Contains 2 figures.)


Somanader, M.C., Saylor, M.M. & Levin, D.T. (2011). Remote Control and Children's Understanding of Robots. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 109(2), 239-247. Retrieved August 26, 2019 from .

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