The purpose of this study was to examine how children think about and attribute features of friendship to a robot after a brief interaction with one. Children visiting a science centre located in a major Western Canadian city were randomly selected to participate in an experiment set up at the centre. A total of 184 children ages 5 to 16 years (M = 8.18 years) with an approximate even number of boys and girls participated. Children were interviewed after observing a traditional robot, a small 5 degree of freedom robot arm, perform a block stacking task. Content analysis was used to examine responses to nine open-ended questions. Results indicate that the majority of children were willing to engage in friendship with the robot by showing positive affiliation and social support towards it, as well as sharing activities, and communicating with it. Significant sex differences in how children ascribe characteristics of friendship to a robot were also found.
Robotics; Developmental psychology; Friendships; Human-machine relationships