Generalisation of Anthropomorphic Stereotype

  • Debora ZanattoEmail author
  • Massimiliano Patacchiola
  • Angelo Cangelosi
  • Jeremy Goslin


Anthropomorphic projection can bring familiarity, confidence and simplicity to our interactions with unknown agents showing a human-like resemblance or behaviour. This study examined whether this projection is generalised beyond the individual agent to encompass others of similar type, even if they might be lacking the requisite human-like features. In an experiment participants had to accept or reject recommendations from two robots that had more or less human-like forms and behaviours. It was found that participants were more likely to trust the judgements of a less-human like robot if they had previously interacted with an anthropomorphic variant. Importantly, this effect was found to be symmetric, with trust in anthropomorphic robots reduced if participants had previously interacted with a less human-like variant. These results showed that we generalise our initial attributions across agent categories, a finding with potential application in helping trust and acceptance of complex technological agents.


Stereotype activation Anthropomorphism Trust Human–robot interaction 



This study was funded by by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Materiel Command, USAF under Award No. FA9550-15-1-0025.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computing, Electronics, and MathematicsPlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyPlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK

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