Emotional musical prosody for the enhancement of trust in robotic arm communication

Richard Savery, Lisa Zahray, Gil Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As robotic arms become prevalent in industry it is crucial to improve levels of trust from human collaborators. Low levels of trust in human-robot interaction can reduce overall performance and prevent full robot utilization. We investigated the potential benefits of using emotional musical prosody to allow the robot to respond emotionally to the user’s actions. We tested participants’ responses to interacting with a virtual robot arm that acted as a decision agent, helping participants select the next number in a sequence. We compared results from three versions of the application in a between group experiment, where the robot had different emotional reactions to the user’s input depending on whether the user agreed with the robot and whether the user’s choice was correct. In all versions, the robot reacted with emotional gestures. One version used prosody-based emotional audio phrases selected from our dataset of singer improvisations, the second version used audio consisting of a single pitch randomly assigned to each emotion, and the final version used no audio, only gestures. Our results showed no significant difference for the percentage of times users from each group agreed with the robot, and no difference between user’s agreement with the robot after it made a mistake. However, participants also took a trust survey following the interaction, and we found that the reported trust ratings of the musical prosody group were significantly higher than both the single-pitch and no audio groups.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventSCRITA 2020: Trust, Acceptance and Social Cues in Human-Robot Interaction - Online
Duration: 1 Sept 20201 Sept 2020


ConferenceSCRITA 2020


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