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Robots as New Media: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Social and Cognitive Responses to Robotic and On-Screen Agents
Unformatted Document Text:  3 viewer. This experiment examines this distinction, and how it affects a variety of viewer responses. The second technological variable influencing telepresence is interactivity, defined as “the extent to which users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time” (Steuer, 1992, 84). Here, the difference between a robot and any on-screen character may be less clear. Even with increasingly powerful microprocessors and advances in artificial intelligence and robotic engineering, robots have a limited repertoire of movements, gestures, and speech. Currently, robots (other than those that carry sophisticated computers) do not have interactive capabilities beyond those of a sophisticated on-screen agent. It seems possible, however, that perhaps vividness and interactivity are correlated in such a way that users perceive robots to be more interactive than on-screen agents because they are more vivid than counterparts represented on a television screen or a computer monitor. The significance of the structural difference between a robot and an on-screen agent has yet to be addressed empirically. Structural/Content Features of Media There is a growing literature which shows that structural features of media can have a profound effect on the way messages are processed (Lang, 2000). Early work in this area has primarily dealt with television and radio, but has recently addressed new media. Newer technologies are particularly interesting because they blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication through techniques like hiding audience size, personally targeting messages, and creating a greater sense of intimacy (Beniger, 1987). The question proposed here is whether the ability to leave the screen and interact in three-dimensional space qualifies as a structural feature. And if it does, can this feature change how media experiences are interpreted and remembered? Lang’s (2000) limited capacity information-processing model defines media as distinct sets of structural features used to present audio or visual information. The viewer in this model is described as an information processor with limited cognitive resources. As a result, what any viewer takes from media is governed by mental activity. Viewers makes some decisions consciously; for example, the processing goals for studying a textbook may differ wildly from the goals for watching a favorite sitcom. Because of different goals, people are likely to construct different mental representations of similar stimuli resulting in different cognitive outcomes. On the other hand, some processing decisions are demanded by media stimuli and made with no conscious intent on the part of the viewer. For example, certain structural features of media have been shown to elicit orienting responses in viewers. The orienting response is an automatic response to novel or meaningful stimuli that is manifested through a set of physiological changes in the body. By eliciting orienting responses, structural features may help determine which sensory information is encoded into working memory (Ohman, 1979). Structural features of television such as cuts, edits, videographics, and movement have all been shown to elicit orienting (Reeves, Thorson, Rothchild, McDonald, Hirsch & Goldstein, 1985; Lang, 1990; Thorson & Lang, 1992;

Authors: Shinozawa, Kazuhiko., Reeves, Byron., Wise, Kevin., Lim, Sohye., Maldonado, Heidy. and Naya, Futoshi.
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viewer. This experiment examines this distinction, and how it affects a variety of viewer
responses.

The second technological variable influencing telepresence is interactivity,
defined as “the extent to which users can participate in modifying the form and content of
a mediated environment in real time” (Steuer, 1992, 84). Here, the difference between a
robot and any on-screen character may be less clear. Even with increasingly powerful
microprocessors and advances in artificial intelligence and robotic engineering, robots
have a limited repertoire of movements, gestures, and speech. Currently, robots (other
than those that carry sophisticated computers) do not have interactive capabilities beyond
those of a sophisticated on-screen agent. It seems possible, however, that perhaps
vividness and interactivity are correlated in such a way that users perceive robots to be
more interactive than on-screen agents because they are more vivid than counterparts
represented on a television screen or a computer monitor. The significance of the
structural difference between a robot and an on-screen agent has yet to be addressed
empirically.

Structural/Content Features of Media

There is a growing literature which shows that structural features of media can
have a profound effect on the way messages are processed (Lang, 2000). Early work in
this area has primarily dealt with television and radio, but has recently addressed new
media. Newer technologies are particularly interesting because they blur the distinction
between interpersonal and mass communication through techniques like hiding audience
size, personally targeting messages, and creating a greater sense of intimacy (Beniger,
1987). The question proposed here is whether the ability to leave the screen and interact
in three-dimensional space qualifies as a structural feature. And if it does, can this
feature change how media experiences are interpreted and remembered?

Lang’s (2000) limited capacity information-processing model defines media as
distinct sets of structural features used to present audio or visual information. The viewer
in this model is described as an information processor with limited cognitive resources.
As a result, what any viewer takes from media is governed by mental activity. Viewers
makes some decisions consciously; for example, the processing goals for studying a
textbook may differ wildly from the goals for watching a favorite sitcom. Because of
different goals, people are likely to construct different mental representations of similar
stimuli resulting in different cognitive outcomes.

On the other hand, some processing decisions are demanded by media stimuli and
made with no conscious intent on the part of the viewer. For example, certain structural
features of media have been shown to elicit orienting responses in viewers. The orienting
response is an automatic response to novel or meaningful stimuli that is manifested
through a set of physiological changes in the body. By eliciting orienting responses,
structural features may help determine which sensory information is encoded into
working memory (Ohman, 1979). Structural features of television such as cuts, edits,
videographics, and movement have all been shown to elicit orienting (Reeves, Thorson,
Rothchild, McDonald, Hirsch & Goldstein, 1985; Lang, 1990; Thorson & Lang, 1992;


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