Conference Papers  |  ,   |  August 28, 2017

A robot counseling system — What kinds of topics do we prefer to disclose to robots?

Conference paper by Takahisa Uchida, Hideyuki Takahashi anad Midori Ban.
Presented at 2017 26th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication.


Our research goal was to develop a robot counseling system. It is important for a counselor to promote self-disclosure of clients to reduce their anxiety feelings. However, when a counselor is human, clients sometimes hesitate to disclose intrusive topics due to embarrassment and self-esteem issues. We hypothesized that a robot counselor, on account of its unique kind of agency, could remove mental barriers between the counselor and the client, and promote in-depth self-disclosure about negative topics. In this study, we prepared two robots (an android and a desktop robot) as robot counselors. First, we confirmed that subjects eagerly self-disclosed to these prepared robots from the numbers of spoken words about self-disclosure in preliminary experiment. And next, we conducted the experiment to verify whether it is possible to expose more of subjects’ weakness to robots than humans. The experimental result suggested that robots can draw out subjects’ self-disclosure about negative topics than the human counselor.