Skip to content
Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 10, 2013

Cross-cultural study on human-robot greeting interaction: acceptance and discomfort by Egyptians and Japanese

  • Gabriele Trovato , Massimiliano Zecca , Salvatore Sessa , Lorenzo Jamone , Jaap Ham , Kenji Hashimoto EMAIL logo and Atsuo Takanishi


As witnessed in several behavioural studies, a complex relationship exists between people’s cultural background and their general acceptance towards robots. However, very few studies have investigated whether a robot’s original language and gesture based on certain culture have an impact on the people of the different cultures. The purpose of this work is to provide experimental evidence which supports the idea that humans may accept more easily a robot that can adapt to their specific culture. Indeed, improving acceptance and reducing discomfort is fundamental for future deployment of robots as assistive, health-care or companion devices into a society. We conducted a Human- Robot Interaction experiment both in Egypt and in Japan. Human subjects were engaged in a simulated video conference with robots that were greeting and speaking either in Arabic or in Japanese. The subjects completed a questionnaire assessing their preferences and their emotional state, while their spontaneous reactions were recorded in different ways. The results suggest that Egyptians prefer the Arabic robot, while they feel a sense of discomfort when interacting with the Japanese robot; the opposite is also true for the Japanese. These findings confirm the importance of the localisation of a robot in order to improve human acceptance during social human-robot interaction.


[1] P. Flandorfer, Population Ageing and Socially Assistive Robots for Elderly Persons: The Importance of Sociodemographic Factors for User Acceptance, International Journal of Popula-tion Research, 2012 (2012), Article ID 829835, 13 pages,. DOI:10.1155/2012/82983510.1155/2012/829835Search in Google Scholar

[2] A. Weiss, V. Evers, Exploring cultural factors in human-robot interaction: A matter of personality?, International Workshop on Comparative Informatics (IWCI-2011), Copenhagen, Denmark, 2011Search in Google Scholar

[3] F. Eyssel and D. Kuchenbrandt, Social categorization of social robots: Anthropomorphism as a function of robot group membership, British Journal of Social Psychology, 51 (4) (2012), 724-73110.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02082.xSearch in Google Scholar

[4] T. Nomura, T. Suzuki, T. Kanda, J. Han, N. Shin, J. Burke, K. Kato, What people assume about humanoid and animal-type robots: cross-cultural analysis between Japan, Korean, and the United States, International Journal of Humanoid Robotics, 05(1) (2008), 25-4610.1142/S0219843608001297Search in Google Scholar

[5] H. R. Lee, J. Sung, S. abanovic, J. Han, Cultural Design of Domestic Robots: A Study of User Expectations in Korea and the United States, The 21st IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Paris, France, 201210.1109/ROMAN.2012.6343850Search in Google Scholar

[6] I. Asimov, The Machine and the Robot. Science Fiction: Contemporary Mythology, P.S. Warrick, M. H. Greenberg, J. D. Olander (Ed.), Harper and Row, 1978Search in Google Scholar

[7] F. L. Schodt, Inside the Robot Kingdom - Japan, Mechatronics, and Coming Robotopia, Kodansha, Tokyo, New York, 198810.1016/0278-6125(88)90048-9Search in Google Scholar

[8] B. Latour, Nous n’avons jamais été modernes (La découverte). English translation revised and augmented: We Have Never Been Modern, Simon and Schuster, 31 England and Harvard University Press, 1991Search in Google Scholar

[9] R. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why, Free press, New York, 2004Search in Google Scholar

[10] F. Kaplan, Who is afraid of the humanoid? Investigating cultural differences in the acceptance of robots, International Journalof Humanoid Robotics, 1 (3) (2004), 465-48010.1142/S0219843604000289Search in Google Scholar

[11] M. E. Rosheim, Leonardo’s Lost Robots, Springer, 2006Search in Google Scholar

[12] J. P. Telotte, Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film, University of Illinois Press, 1995Search in Google Scholar

[13] L.Graillat, America vs. Japan: the Influence of American Comics on Manga, Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media, 10, 2006Search in Google Scholar

[14] C. Bartneck, T. Suzuki, T. Kanda, T. Nomura, The influence of people’s culture and prior experiences with Aibo on their attitude towards robots, AI & Soc., 21 (2007), 217-23010.1007/s00146-006-0052-7Search in Google Scholar

[15] K. O. Arras, Do we want to share our lives and bodies with robots? A 2000-people survey, Autonomous Systems Lab, EPFL, Technical Report Nr. 0605-001, 2005. Available: http:// in Google Scholar

[16] M. Saif, The evolution of persian thought regarding art and figural representation in secular and religious life after the coming of Islam. Macalester Islam Journal, 1(2) (2006), 53-95Search in Google Scholar

[17] R. M. Thomas, Computer technology: an example of decisionmaking in technology transfer. Educational technology - its’ creation, development and cross-cultural transfer. In: R.M. Thomas, V. N. Kobayashi (Ed.), Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1987, 25-34Search in Google Scholar

[18] E. M. Rogers EM, Diffusion of innovations, 4 ed., The Free Press, New York, 1995Search in Google Scholar

[19] S. K. Fan, Japanese communication beyond language: from the viewpoint of Hong Kong Chinese (in Japanese), Kanda University of International Studies, 2002, 21-35Search in Google Scholar

[20] Y. H. Zoubir, Doing business in Egypt, Thunderbird Interna-tional Business Review, 42 (3) (2001), 329-34710.1002/1520-6874(200005/06)42:3<329::AID-TIE4>3.0.CO;2-RSearch in Google Scholar

[21] M. Yamamoto, T. Watanabe, Time Delay Effects of Utterance to Communicative Actions on Greeting Interaction by Using a Voice- Driven Embodied Interaction System, Proceedings of International Symposium on Computational Intelligence in Robotics and Automation, 2003, 217-222Search in Google Scholar

[22] S. Suzuki, Y. Fujimoto, T. Yamaguchi, Can differences of nationalities be induced and measured by robot gesture communication?, 4th International Conference on Human System Interactions (HSI), 2011, 357-36210.1109/HSI.2011.5937392Search in Google Scholar

[23] H. Aoki, Y. Fujimoto, S. Suzuki, E. Sato-Shimokawara, T. Yamaguchi, Interaction robot considered difference of culture and physiological responses on greeting with the robot, SICE Annual Conference 2011, 2510-2513Search in Google Scholar

[24] M. Makatche, R. Simmons, M. Sakr, M. Ziadee, Expressing Ethnicity through Behaviors of a Robot Character, Proceedings of the 8th ACM/IEEE international conference on Human-robot interaction (HRI), Tokyo, Japan, 2013, 357-364, arXiv:1303.359210.1109/HRI.2013.6483610Search in Google Scholar

[25] L. D. Riek, N. Mavridis, S. Antali, N. Darmaki, Z. Ahmed, M. Al- Neyadi, A. Alketheri, Ibn Sina Steps Out: Exploring Arabic Attitudes Toward Humanoid Robots, in Proceedings of Second International Symposium on New Frontiers in Human-Robot Interaction, Leicester, UK, 2010Search in Google Scholar

[26] N. Mavridis, M.S. Katsaiti, S. Naef, A. Falasi, A. Nuaimi, H. Araifi, A. Kitbi, Opinions and attitudes towards humanoid robots in the Middle East, Springer Journal of AI and Society, 27(4) (2012), 517-534, DOI: 10.1007/s00146-011-0370-210.1007/s00146-011-0370-2Search in Google Scholar

[27] G. Trovato, M. Zecca, S. Sessa, L. Jamone, J. Ham, K. Hashimoto, A. Takanishi, Towards culture-specific robot customisation: a study on greeting interaction with Egyptians, The 22nd International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Gyeongju, South Korea, 201310.1109/ROMAN.2013.6628520Search in Google Scholar

[28] N. Endo, A. Takanishi, Development of Whole-body Emotional Expression Humanoid Robot for ADL-assistive RT services, Journalof Robotics and Mechatronics 23(6) (2011), 969-97710.20965/jrm.2011.p0969Search in Google Scholar

[29] T. Kishi, T. Otani, N. Endo, P. Kryczka, K. Hashimoto, K. Nakata, A. Takanishi, Development of Expressive Robotic Head for Bipedal Humanoid Robot, Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Vila Moura, Portugal, 2012, 4584-458910.1109/IROS.2012.6386050Search in Google Scholar

[30] G. Trovato, T. Kishi, N. Endo, K. Hashimoto, A. Takanishi, A Cross- Cultural Study on Generation of Culture Dependent Facial Expressions of Humanoid Social Robot, International Conference ofSocial Robotics, Chengdu, China, 2012, 35-4410.1007/978-3-642-34103-8_4Search in Google Scholar

[31] G. Metta, P. Fitzpatrick, L. Natale, Yarp: yet another robot platform, International Journal on Advanced Robotics Sys-tems, special Issue on Software Development and Integration in Robotics, 3(1), (2006) 43-48Search in Google Scholar

[32] D. Morris, Bodytalk: a world guide to gestures, Ed. Jonathan Cape, University of Michigan, 1994Search in Google Scholar

[33] T. D. Blumenthal, B. N. Cuthbert, D. L. Filion, S. Hackley, O. V. Lipp, A. van Boxtel, Committee report: guidelines for human startle eyeblink electromyographic studies, Psychophysiology 42, 2005, 1-1510.1111/j.1469-8986.2005.00271.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

[34] P. Cipresso, S. Serino, D. Villani, C. Repetto, L. Sellitti, G. Albani, A. Mauro, A. Gaggioli, G. Riva, Is your phone so smart to affect your state? An exploratory study based on psychophysiological measures, Neurocomputing 84, 2012, 23-3010.1016/j.neucom.2011.12.027Search in Google Scholar

[35] S. Kaiser, T. Wehrle, Facial Expressions as Indicators of Appraisal Processes. In K. R. Scherer, A. Schorr, & T. Johnstone, Appraisal processes in emotions: Theory, methods, research, Oxford University Press, New York, 2001, 285-300Search in Google Scholar

[36] C. Bartneck, E. Croft, D. Kulic, Measuring the anthropomorphism, animacy, likeability, perceived intelligence and perceived safety of robots, Proceedings of the Metrics for Human-Robot Interaction Workshop in affiliation with the 3rd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, Technical Report 471, Amsterdam, 2008, 37-44Search in Google Scholar

[37] W.H. Kruskal, W.A. Wallis, Use of ranks in one-criterion variance analysis, Journal of the American Statistical Association 47 (260), 1952, 583-62110.1080/01621459.1952.10483441Search in Google Scholar

[38] H. B. Mann, R. Whitney, Donald R, On a Test of Whether one of Two Random Variables is Stochastically Larger than the Other, Annals of Mathematical Statistics 18 (1) (1947), 50-6010.1214/aoms/1177730491Search in Google Scholar

[39] D. George, P. Mallery, SPSS for Windows step by step: A simple guide and reference, 11.0 update (4th ed.), Allyn & Bacon, Boston, 2003Search in Google Scholar

[40] B. Reeves, C. Nass, The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television and New Media Like Real People and Places, University Press, Cambridge, 1996Search in Google Scholar

[41] C. Nass, K. M. Lee, Does computer-synthesized speech manifest personality? Experimental tests of recognition, similarityattraction, and consistency-attraction., Journal of ExperimentalPsychology: Applied 7(3) (2001) 171-181.Search in Google Scholar

[42] C. Nass, Y. Moon, et al., Are people polite to computers? Responses to computerbased interviewing systems, Journal of Ap-plied Social Psychology 29(5) (1999), 1093-111010.1111/j.1559-1816.1999.tb00142.xSearch in Google Scholar

[43] P. Brown, Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage, Cambridge University Press, 1987.10.1017/CBO9780511813085Search in Google Scholar

[44] C. H. Lovelock, L. Wright, Principles of service marketing and management, Prentice Hall, 2002.Search in Google Scholar

[45] V. Evers, Cross-cultural Differences in Understanding Human- Computer Interfaces, in Adjunct Proceedings of the 13th British Computer Society Annual Conference on Human Computer Interaction (1998, Sheffield, UK), Sheffield, UK, 1998, 88-89 Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2013-12-10
Published in Print: 2013-12-1

This content is open access.

Downloaded on 26.9.2023 from
Scroll to top button