Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks

An interesting new study purports to show that robots can encourage humans to take greater risks in a simulated gambling scenario than they would if there was nothing to influence their behaviors.

Dr Yaniv Hanoch, Associate Professor in Risk Management at the University of Southampton who led the study explained, "We know that peer pressure can lead to higher risk-taking behaviour. With the ever-increasing scale of interaction between humans and technology, both online and physically, it is crucial that we understand more about whether machines can have a similar impact."

This new research, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, involved 180 undergraduate students taking the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), a computer assessment that asks participants to press the spacebar on a keyboard to inflate a balloon displayed on the screen. With each press of the spacebar, the balloon inflates slightly, and 1 penny is added to the player's "temporary money bank." The balloons can explode randomly, meaning the player loses any money they have won for that balloon and they have the option to "cash-in" before this happens and move on to the next balloon...

Dr Hanoch said: "We saw participants in the control condition scale back their risk-taking behaviour following a balloon explosion, whereas those in the experimental condition continued to take as much risk as before. So, receiving direct encouragement from a risk-promoting robot seemed to override participants' direct experiences and instincts."

(Via 'The robot made me do it': Robots encourage risk-taking behavior in people.)

Readers can fact check me, but I seem to recall that in the Aliens movie, the android Bishop encourages the humans to take greater risks. I'm sure there are other science fictional examples.

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