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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:  4 Lang, Gieger, Strickwerda, & Sumner, 1993). Similar effects have been found for structural features of radio such as voice changes and sound effects (Potter, Lang, & Bolls, 1997; 1998). More recent research suggests that structural features of computer-mediated information can also elicit orienting, although in slightly different ways than television or radio (Lang, Borse, Wise & David, 2002). In sum, this line of research demonstrates that the form of a particular medium has important consequences for how its message is processed and ultimately whether it is remembered. The study presented here is not about orienting per se, but this literature may still be relevant because it demonstrates how the structural difference between on-screen and robotic agents may lead to differences in the amount of effort given to thinking about media. It seems obvious that the content of a particular message would also influence how it is processed. In general, we assume that people pay more attention at a scary movie than an insurance seminar, but we also allow some variance attributable to individual interests (e.g., those shopping for insurance). Research looking at pictures (Lang, 1995) and films (Gross & Levenson, 1995) show that there is some media content that demans attention regardless of interests. The interactions designed for this study were not meant to be particularly emotional, but rather to represent a subset of contexts that have some real-world significance within the realm of human-computer interaction. In spite of this, it is possible that different contexts will elicit different emotional responses from users, which could influence social evaluations of the interactive agent either directly or by interacting with other factors. Social Responses/Media Equation One of the central themes in human-computer interaction research has been how and to what degree people personify computers and attribute human-like qualities to computer functions. Particular emphasis has been placed on the social aspects of human responses to different communication technologies. This research has demonstrated that the relationship between humans and media technologies is fundamentally social, meaning that social dynamics and constraints usually associated with interpersonal relationships apply to mediated interactions as well (Reeves & Nass, 1996). Similar to the earlier discussion of media structural features, this line of research has never been applied to agents that can interact in the same physical dimension as a human. It seems intuitively logical that the leap from on-screen to off-screen would represent a substantial difference in the social responses that an agent could elicit. On the other hand, if the contention that mediated life and real life are equal is correct, we would expect to see no affective or social difference between on-screen and three-dimensional media. Japan/US Differences If we accept the hypothesis that people automatically treat computers as social actors, it logically follows that people must also unconsciously apply their culture-specific norms and preferences during computer interactions. Several cross-cultural studies have addressed this issue and found evidence supporting this hypothesis. For

Authors: Shinozawa, Kazuhiko., Reeves, Byron., Wise, Kevin., Lim, Sohye., Maldonado, Heidy. and Naya, Futoshi.
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Lang, Gieger, Strickwerda, & Sumner, 1993). Similar effects have been found for
structural features of radio such as voice changes and sound effects (Potter, Lang, &
Bolls, 1997; 1998). More recent research suggests that structural features of computer-
mediated information can also elicit orienting, although in slightly different ways than
television or radio (Lang, Borse, Wise & David, 2002).

In sum, this line of research demonstrates that the form of a particular medium
has important consequences for how its message is processed and ultimately whether it is
remembered. The study presented here is not about orienting per se, but this literature
may still be relevant because it demonstrates how the structural difference between on-
screen and robotic agents may lead to differences in the amount of effort given to
thinking about media.

It seems obvious that the content of a particular message would also influence
how it is processed. In general, we assume that people pay more attention at a scary
movie than an insurance seminar, but we also allow some variance attributable to
individual interests (e.g., those shopping for insurance). Research looking at pictures
(Lang, 1995) and films (Gross & Levenson, 1995) show that there is some media content
that demans attention regardless of interests. The interactions designed for this study
were not meant to be particularly emotional, but rather to represent a subset of contexts
that have some real-world significance within the realm of human-computer interaction.
In spite of this, it is possible that different contexts will elicit different emotional
responses from users, which could influence social evaluations of the interactive agent
either directly or by interacting with other factors.
Social Responses/Media Equation

One of the central themes in human-computer interaction research has been how
and to what degree people personify computers and attribute human-like qualities to
computer functions. Particular emphasis has been placed on the social aspects of human
responses to different communication technologies. This research has demonstrated that
the relationship between humans and media technologies is fundamentally social,
meaning that social dynamics and constraints usually associated with interpersonal
relationships apply to mediated interactions as well (Reeves & Nass, 1996). Similar to
the earlier discussion of media structural features, this line of research has never been
applied to agents that can interact in the same physical dimension as a human. It seems
intuitively logical that the leap from on-screen to off-screen would represent a substantial
difference in the social responses that an agent could elicit. On the other hand, if the
contention that mediated life and real life are equal is correct, we would expect to see no
affective or social difference between on-screen and three-dimensional media.
Japan/US Differences

If we accept the hypothesis that people automatically treat computers as social
actors, it logically follows that people must also unconsciously apply their culture-
specific norms and preferences during computer interactions. Several cross-cultural
studies have addressed this issue and found evidence supporting this hypothesis. For


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