Theory of Mind (ToM) has repeatedly been defined as the ability to understand that others believe their own things based on their own subjective interpretations and experiences, and that their thoughts are determined independently from your own. In this study, we wanted to see if individual differences in ToM are capable of causing different perceptions of an individual's interactions with human like robotics and highlight whether or not individual differences in ToM account for different levels of how individuals experience what is called the "Uncanny Valley phenomenon" and to see whether or not having a fully developed theory of mind is essential to the perception of the interaction. This was assessed by inquiring whether or not individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) perceive robotics and artificially intelligent technology in the same ways that typically developed individuals do; we focused on the growing use of social robotics in ASD therapies. Studies have indicated that differences of ToM exist between individuals with ASD and those who are typically developed. Comparably, we were also curious to see if differences in empathy levels also accounted for differences in ToM and thus a difference in the perceptions of human like robotics. A robotic image rating survey was administered to a group of University of central Florida students, as well as 2 surveys - the Autism Spectrum Quotient (ASQ) and the Basic Empathy Scale (BES), which helped optimize a measurement for theory of mind. Although the results of this study did not support the claim that individuals with ASD do not experience the uncanny valley differently than typically developed individuals, there were significant enough results to conclude that different levels of empathy may account for individual differences in the uncanny valley. People with low empathy seemed to have experienced less of an uncanny valley feeling, while people with higher recorded empathy showed to experience more of an uncanny valley sensitivity.
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McConnell, Daniel S.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Jaramillo, Isabella, "Do Autistic Individuals Experience the Uncanny Valley Phenomenon?: The Role of Theory of Mind in Human-Robot Interaction" (2015). HIM 1990-2015. 619.