Endowing a Robotic Tutor with Empathic Qualities: Design and Pilot Evaluation

Mohammed Obaid, Ruth Aylett, Wolmet Barendregt, Christina Basedow, Lee J. Corrigan, Lynne Hall, Aidan Jones, Arvid Kappas, Dennis Kuester, Ana Paiva, Fotios Papadopoulos, Sofia Serholt, Ginevra Castellano

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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As increasingly more research efforts are geared towards creating robots that can teach and interact with children in educational contexts, it has been speculated that endowing robots with artificial empathy may facilitate learning. In this paper, we provide a back- ground to the concept of empathy, and how it factors into learning. We then present our approach to equipping a robotic tutor with several empathic qualities, describing the technical architecture and its components, a map-reading learning scenario developed for an interactive multitouch table, as well as the pedagogical and empathic strategies devised for the robot. We also describe the results of a pilot study comparing the robotic tutor with these empathic qualities against a version of the tutor without them. The pilot study was performed with 26 school children aged 10-11 at their school. Results revealed that children in the test condition indeed rated the robot as more empathic than children in the control condition. Moreover, we explored several related measures, such as relational status and learning effect, yet no other significant differences were found. We further discuss these results and provide insights into future directions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1850025
JournalInternational Journal of Humanoid Robotics
Issue number6
Early online date7 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • robot
  • empathy
  • children
  • education
  • tutor


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