SATO Wataru Laboratory

Robot touch with speech boosts positive emotions

(Sawabe, Honda, Sato, Ishikura, Kanbara, Yoshikawa, Fujimoto, & Kato: Sci Rep)

A gentle touch is an essential part of human interaction that produces a positive care effect.
Previously, robotics studies have shown that robots can reproduce a gentle touch that elicits similar, positive emotional responses in humans.
However, whether the positive emotional effects of a robotfs touch combined with speech can be enhanced using a multimodal approach remains unclear.
This study supports the hypothesis that a multimodal interaction combining gentle touch and speech by a robot enhances positive emotional responses.

Here, we conducted an experiment using a robotic arm to perform a gentle touch combined with speech and compared three conditions: touch alone, speech alone, and touch with speech.
We assessed participantsf subjective ratings of valence, arousal, and human likeliness using subjective emotional responses.
Furthermore, we recorded facial electromyography (EMG) from the corrugator supercilii and zygomaticus major muscles and measured skin conductance levels (SCLs) as physiological emotional responses.

Our results show that touch combined with speech elicited higher subjective valence and arousal ratings, stronger zygomaticus major EMG and SCL activities than touch alone.

The results suggest that the positive emotional effects of robotic touch can be boosted by combining elements of speech.

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