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Seeing robots in movies makes us more accepting of them in real life


A new study has shown that when we watch robots in movies, we are more likely to have positive feelings towards them in real life.

Researchers from Penn State surveyed 379 older adults aged between 60 to 86 and asked them to recall movies they'd seen featuring robots. Robots that were cited more often included Bicentennial Man, I, Robot and The Terminator, among others.

However, even movies with "evil" robots made viewers more amenable to the idea of interacting with real robots later in life, and robots with deliberate markers to incite empathy in the story had a stronger effect on viewers.

S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory noticed that, "The more sympathetic the participants felt toward the robot -- for example, the robot in Wall-E -- the more positive they felt toward robots."

The study will help robotics designers in their quest to make robots look more acceptable to humans and lessen the 'uncanny valley' effect. Movie makers will no doubt continue to use robots in film as technology progresses.