London : Young children are significantly more likely than adults to have their opinions and decisions influenced by robots, according to a study. The research, published in the journal Science Robotics, raises concerns about the negative influence machines might have on vulnerable youngsters. Researchers from the University of Plymouth in the UK compared how adults and children respond to an identical task when in the presence of both their peers and humanoid robots. They found that while adults regularly have their opinions influenced by peers, something also demonstrated in previous studies, they are largely able to resist being persuaded by robots.
Robots may influence children’s opinions
However, children aged between seven and nine were more likely to give the same responses as the robots, even if they were obviously incorrect. The study used the Asch paradigm, first developed in the 1950s, which asks people to look at a screen showing four lines and say which two match in length. When alone, people almost never make a mistake but when doing the experiment with others, they tend to follow what others are saying. When children were alone in the room in this research, they scored 87 per cent on the test, but when the robots joined in, their score dropped to 75 per cent.