Social robots on a global stage

establishing a role for culture during human-robot interaction

Velvetina Lim, Maki Rooksby, Emily S. Cross*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Robotic agents designed to assist people across a variety of social and service settings are becoming increasingly prevalent across the world. Here we synthesise two decades of empirical evidence from human–robot interaction (HRI) research to focus on cultural influences on expectations towards and responses to social robots, as well as the utility of robots displaying culturally specific social cues for improving human engagement. Findings suggest complex and intricate relationships between culture and human cognition in the context of HRI. The studies reviewed here transcend the often-studied and prototypical east–west dichotomy of cultures, and explore how people’s perceptions of robots are informed by their national culture as well as their experiences with robots. Many of the findings presented in this review raise intriguing questions concerning future directions for robotics designers and cultural psychologists, in terms of conceptualising and delivering culturally sensitive robots. We point out that such development is currently limited by heterogenous methods and low statistical power, which contribute to a concerning lack of generalisability. We also propose several avenues through which future work may begin to address these shortcomings. In sum, we highlight the critical role of culture in mediating efforts to develop robots aligned with human users’ cultural backgrounds, and argue for further research into the role of culturally-informed robotic development in facilitating human–robot interaction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages27
    JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2020


    • Culture
    • Embodied social interaction
    • Human cognition
    • Human–robot interaction
    • Individualism–collectivism
    • Social robotics

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Social robots on a global stage: establishing a role for culture during human-robot interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this