Kids tell robots their secrets

A new study shows that children express their feelings better to robots than people.




According to a new study, robots can detect mental health disorders in youngsters better than parents or self-reported assessments. A team of roboticists, computer scientists, and psychiatrists from the University of Cambridge collaborated on research involving 28 youngsters aged 8 to 13. The research study was partly peer-reviewed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Center.


They used a child-sized robot to conduct a standard psychological questionnaire on each of the children to assess their mental health. Children felt more comfortable confiding in a robot than in people, and in some circumstances, children disclosed information with the robot that they had not before discussed with anybody.


The robots are not intended to be replacements, but researchers believe they might be beneficial in addition to existing methods of monitoring mental health.

"There are occasions when standard approaches aren't able to spot mental wellness lapses in youngsters since sometimes the changes are so subtle," the study's first author, Nida Itrat Abbasi, said. "We wanted to test if robots could assist with this procedure."




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