3 years ago

A pilot study for robot appearance preferences among high-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Implications for therapeutic use

Mitsuru Kikuchi, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Yujin Wakita, Yuichiro Yoshikawa, Yoshio Matsumoto, Zachary Warren, Masaru Mimura, Sakae Mizushima, Mitsuko Nakano, Taro Muramatsu, Masutomo Miyao, Yoshio Minabe, Hirokazu Kumazaki
Recent rapid technological advances have enabled robots to fulfill a variety of human-like functions, leading researchers to propose the use of such technology for the development and subsequent validation of interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a variety of robots have been proposed as possible therapeutic tools, the physical appearances of humanoid robots currently used in therapy with these patients are highly varied. Very little is known about how these varied designs are experienced by individuals with ASD. In this study, we systematically evaluated preferences regarding robot appearance in a group of 16 individuals with ASD (ages 10–17). Our data suggest that there may be important differences in preference for different types of robots that vary according to interaction type for individuals with ASD. Specifically, within our pilot sample, children with higher-levels of reported ASD symptomatology reported a preference for specific humanoid robots to those perceived as more mechanical or mascot-like. The findings of this pilot study suggest that preferences and reactions to robotic interactions may vary tremendously across individuals with ASD. Future work should evaluate how such differences may be systematically measured and potentially harnessed to facilitate meaningful interactive and intervention paradigms.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186581

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