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Description: This study investigated human-robot cooperation in the context of prisoner’s dilemma (PD) games and the extent to which people’s willingness to cooperate with a robot varies according to incentives provided by the game context. We manipulated the payoff matrices of human-robot PD games and predicted that people would cooperate more often in the situation where cooperating with the robot was a relatively more rewarding option. Our results showed that, in the early rounds of the game, participants made significantly more cooperative decisions when the game structure providing more incentives for cooperation. However, subsequent game decisions were dominantly driven by other two factors. The first was the robot’s previous game choices, where participants played a tit-for-tat strategy against the robot even though its decisions were random. Second, presentation of real-time game scores significantly impacted people’s cooperative tendencies, which were further shaped by participant performance relative to the robot. Participants only showed prosocial tendencies toward the robot when they had achieved high scores. In conclusion, people appear to display a strong reciprocal tendency toward social robots in economic games, and other relevant factors shaping people’s behavior in PD games played against robots include incentive structure, presentation of game scores, and people’s predisposition to anthropomorphism.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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