Uncanny valley, anthropomorphism, hexaco, emotionality, unpleasant reaction, uncanny, human robot interaction, eerie, eeriness, uncanniness, personality traits, inventory, robot, cgi, android, actroid, humanlike, cognition, perception, eye tracking, perception of the uncanny, user perception, individual differences, anthropomorphization, anthropomorphisation, anthropomorphic tendencies, fear, horror, terror, unease, uneasiness, entertainment, psychology, film, environment, environments, immersion, narrative, social, adjectives, user description, popular media


There is abundant anecdotal evidence substantiating Mori’s initial observation of the "uncanny valley", a point at which human response to non-human entities drops sharply with respect to comfort (Mori, 1970), and the construct itself has a long-standing history in both Robotics and Psychology. Currently, many fields such as design, training, entertainment, and education make use of heuristic approaches to accommodate the anticipated needs of the user/consumer/audience in certain important aspects. This is due to the lack of empirical substantiation or, in some cases, the impossibility of rigorous quantification; one such area is with respect to the user’s experience of uncanniness, a feeling of "eeriness" or "wrongness" when interacting with artefacts or environments. Uncanniness, however, continues to be defined and measured in a largely subjective way, and often after the fact; an experience or product’s uncanny features are pointed out after the item has been markedly avoided or complained about by the general public. These studies are among the first seeking to determine a constellation of personality traits and physiological responses that incline the user to have a more frequent or profound "uncanny" reaction when presented with stimuli meeting the criteria for a level of "eeriness". In study 1, 395 adults were asked to categorize 200 images as uncanny, neutral, pleasant, or other. In Study 2, physiological and eye-tracking data was collected from twenty two adults as they viewed uncanny, neutral and pleasant images culled from study 1. This research identifies components of the uncanny valley related to subjective assessment, personality factors (using the HEXACO and Anthropomorphic Tendencies Scale), and biophysical measures, and found that traits unique to Emotionality on the HEXACO inventory, compounded with a form of anthropomorphism demonstrates a level of relationship to the subjective experience of uncanny stimuli. There is evidence that HEXACO type and forms of anthropomorphic perception mediates the biophysical iv expression and the subjective perception of the stimuli. In keeping with psychological hypotheses, stimuli to which the participants had greatest response centered on death, the threat of death, or mismatched/absent facial features.


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Graduation Date





Sims, Valerie K.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Psychology; Human Factors Psychology








Release Date

August 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Psychology Commons