Examples of Some of Our Studies
One way that children organize the world is into living and non-living things. But robots seem to straddle the boundaries – they are pieces of technology, but they also interact as if they have intentions and feelings. How do children understand such personified technologies — as living things, non-living things, or something in-between? In a series of studies, we have looked at how children and adolescents think about and interact with real robots.
Severson, R. L., & Carlson, S. M. (2010). Behaving as or behaving as if? Children's conceptions of personified robots and the emergence of a new ontological category. Neural Networks (Special Issue on Social Cognition: From Babies to Robots), 23, 1099-1103.
Kahn, P. H., Jr., Kanda, T., Ishiguro, H., Freier, N. G., Severson, R. L., Gill, B. T., Ruckert, J. H., & Shen, S. (2012). “Robovie, you’ll have to go into the closet now”: Children’s social and moral relationships with a humanoid robot. Developmental Psychology, 48, 303-314.
Kahn, P. H., Jr., Severson, R. L., & Ruckert, J. H. (2009). The human relationship with nature and technological nature. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 37-42.
We name our cars, talk to our pets, and grumble at our sluggish computers! People of all ages vary widely in their tendency to attribute internal states – like emotions, thoughts, consciousness, and intentions – to animals, inanimate nature, and technology. In these studies, we extended work on anthropomorphism by developing a new measure of individual differences in anthropomorphic beliefs for use with children.
Severson, R. L., & Woodard, S. R. (2018). Imagining others' minds: The positive relation between children's role play and anthropomorphism. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2140. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02140
Severson, R. L., & Lemm, K. (2016). Kids see human too: Adapting an individual differences measure of anthropomorphism for a child sample. Journal of Cognition and Development, 17, 122-141. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2014.989445