Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in: Proceedings of the 5th ACM/IEEE international conference on Human-robot interaction (HRI '10), IEEE Press Piscataway, NJ, USA, pp 91-92.


Copyright © 2010 IEEE. Used by permission.


The introduction of two types of unmanned aerial vehicles into a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream suggests that social proof informs untrained human groups. We describe the metaphors used in instructing actors, who were otherwise untrained and inexperienced with robots, in order to shape their expectations. Audience response to a robot crash depended on whether the audience had seen how the actors interacted with the robot “baby fairies.” If they had not seen the actors treating a robot gently, an audience member would likely throw the robot expecting it to fly or handle it roughly. If they had seen the actors with the robots, the audience appeared to adopt the same gentle style and mechanisms for re-launching the micro-helicopter. The difference in audience behavior suggests that the principle of social proof will govern how untrained humans will react to robots.