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Using robots to understand animal social cognition

Frohnwieser, Anna; Murray, John; Pike, Tom; Wilkinson, Anna


Anna Frohnwieser

John Murray

Tom Pike

Anna Wilkinson


In recent years, robotic animals and humans have been used to answer a variety of questions related to behavior. In the case of animal behavior, these efforts have largely been in the field of behavioral ecology. They have proved to be a useful tool for this enterprise as they allow the presentation of naturalistic social stimuli whilst providing the experimenter with full control of the stimulus. In interactive experiments, the behavior of robots can be controlled in a manner that is impossible with real animals, making them ideal instruments for the study of social stimuli in animals. This paper provides an overview of the current state of the field and considers the impact that the use of robots could have on fundamental questions related to comparative psychology: namely, perception, spatial cognition, social cognition, and early cognitive development. We make the case that the use of robots to investigate these key areas could have an important impact on the field of animal cognition.


Frohnwieser, A., Murray, J., Pike, T., & Wilkinson, A. (2016). Using robots to understand animal social cognition. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 105(1), 14-22.

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Conference Name ASAB Easter Conference 2015
Conference Location Durham, UK
Start Date Mar 18, 2015
End Date Mar 20, 2015
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2015
Online Publication Date Jan 18, 2016
Publication Date 2016-01
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2019
Print ISSN 1938-3711
Publisher Wiley
Volume 105
Issue 1
Pages 14-22
Book Title ASAB Easter Conference 2015
Keywords Robot; Animal cognition; Perception; Spatial cognition; Social cognition; Developmental cognition
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