Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Computer Science and Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Bill Smart


There is no doubt that robots are now starting to increasingly be integrated into mainstream society, and as they do the amount of contact and the number of interactions they have with humans will increase at a similar rate. These interactions open a new set of issues for robot designers and programmers. What is the best way for robots to interact with humans? This study tested the importance of gestures in creating effective human-robot interactions. Conducted using the PR2, this study explored the role of gestures in two basic kinds of communications: the robot communicating a need: low power) to an unsuspecting human, and a robot building trust with a human participant on an instruction reading task. We predicted that gestures would lead to more effective interactions than the non-gesture controls. We also used the opportunity to explore a largely unresearched area in proxemics: the idea that loose, “bouncing” arms led to lower attributions of dominance than stiff, fixed arms. Our research highlighted the importance of gestures in communication, particularly among people who tended to look at robots as more than machines.


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