Robot-mediated inclusive processes in groups of children: From gaze aversion to mutual smiling gaze

Sylvaine Tuncer, Sarah Gillet, Iolanda Leite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Our work is motivated by the idea that social robots can help inclusive processes in groups of children, focusing on the case of children who have newly arrived from a foreign country and their peers at school. Building on an initial study where we tested different robot behaviours and recorded children’s interactions mediated by a robot in a game, we present in this paper the findings from a subsequent analysis of the same video data drawing from ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. We describe how this approach differs from predominantly quantitative video analysis in HRI; how mutual gaze appeared as a challenging interactional accomplishment between unacquainted children, and why we focused on this phenomenon. We identify two situations and trajectories in which children make eye contact: asking for or giving instructions, and sharing an emotional reaction. Based on detailed analyses of a selection of extracts in the empirical section, we describe patterns and discuss the links between the different situations and trajectories, and relationship building. Our findings inform HRI and robot
design by identifying complex interactional accomplishments between two children, as well as group dynamics which support these interactions. We argue that social robots should be able to perceive such phenomena in order to better support inclusion of outgroup children. Lastly, by explaining how we combined approaches and showing how they build on each other, we also hope to demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary research, and encourage it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number729146
JournalFrontiers in Robotics and AI
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022


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