The Social-Cognitive Rules of Robotics: Exploring How to Enhance the Usability of Robots via Principles of Joint Action

Merryn D. Constable, Marta Lagomarsino, Marta Lorenzini, James W. A. Strachan, Mariacarla Memeo, Arash Ajoudani, Cristina Becchio

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


To enhance usability, how can we develop collaborative robots that align with human physical and cognitive preferences? In human-human interactions, social conventions create expectations for action and act as heuristics in action planning. As a result, adhering to social conventions provides an opportunity for fast and effective interactions. We explored the extent to which participants facilitated the physical efficiency of a joint action whilst handing an object to a co-agent in both human-human and human-robot interactions. Facilitatory
behaviour was observed: Participants rotated the handle toward the robot, albeit not to the same extent as a human receiver. When receiving an object from the robot, the participants adapted well regardless of the handover strategy. Nevertheless, results indicated that if a robot facilitates the action of a co-actor by balancing the aggregate physical costs of the joint action, then perceptions of the interaction are enhanced. This initial work demonstrates the importance of considering human physical, social and cognitive tendencies in developing collaborative robot behaviours to improve the technology's usability and acceptability.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023
EventBi-Annual 9th Joint Action Meeting (JAM 9) - CEU Budapest Site, 1051 Budapest, Nador utca 15., Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 10 Jul 202312 Jul 2023


ConferenceBi-Annual 9th Joint Action Meeting (JAM 9)
Abbreviated titleJAM 9
Internet address

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