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Human but not robotic gaze facilitates action prediction

Tidoni, Emmanuele; Holle, Henning; Scandola, Michele; Schindler, Igor; Hill, Loron; Cross, Emily S.


Emmanuele Tidoni

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Dr Henning Holle
Reader in Psychology / Leader of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience group (

Michele Scandola

Loron Hill

Emily S. Cross


Do people ascribe intentions to humanoid robots as they would to humans or non-human-like animated objects? In six experiments, we compared people's ability to extract non-mentalistic (i.e., where an agent is looking) and mentalistic (i.e., what an agent is looking at; what an agent is going to do) information from gaze and directional cues performed by humans, human-like robots, and a non-human-like object. People were faster to infer the mental content of human agents compared to robotic agents. Furthermore, although the absence of differences in control conditions rules out the use of non-mentalizing strategies, the human-like appearance of non-human agents may engage mentalizing processes to solve the task. Overall, results suggest that human-like robotic actions may be processed differently from humans’ and objects’ behavior. These findings inform our understanding of the relevance of an object's physical features in triggering mentalizing abilities and its relevance for human–robot interaction.


Tidoni, E., Holle, H., Scandola, M., Schindler, I., Hill, L., & Cross, E. S. (2022). Human but not robotic gaze facilitates action prediction. iScience, 25(6), Article 104462.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 17, 2022
Online Publication Date May 25, 2022
Publication Date Jun 17, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 10, 2022
Journal iScience
Print ISSN 2589-0042
Electronic ISSN 2589-0042
Publisher Cell Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 6
Article Number 104462
Keywords Cognitive neuroscience; Robotics; Research methodology social sciences
Public URL


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