Relationships to Social Robots: Towards a Triadic Analysis of Media-oriented Behavior

Joachim R. Höflich, University of Erfurt

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People are living in relationships not only to other people but also to media, including things and robots. As the theory of media equation suggests, people treat media as if they were real persons. This theoretical perspective is also relevant to the case of human-robot interaction. A distinctive feature of such interaction is that the relation to social robots also depends on the human likeness as an anthropomorphic perspective underlines. But people seem to prefer a certain imperfection; otherwise they feel uncanny. This paper explores the idea of robots as media and people’s relations to them. The paper argues that robots are seen not only in the context of a relationship with a medium but also as a medium that ‘mediates.’ This means that robots connect between the environment and other people, but can also divide them. The paper concludes with a proposed perspective that widens a dyadic model of human-robot-interaction towards a triadic analysis.