The receptionist job, consisting in providing useful indications to visitors in a public office, is one possible employment of social robots. The design and the behaviour of robots expected to be integrated in human societies are crucial issues, and they are dependent on the culture and society in which the robot should be deployed. We study the factors that could be used in the design of a receptionist robot in Brazil, a country with a mix of races and considerable gaps in economic and educational level. This inequality results in the presence of functional illiterate people, unable to use reading, writing and numeracy skills. We invited Brazilian people, including a group of functionally illiterate subjects, to interact with two types of receptionists differing in physical appearance (agent v mechanical robot) and in the sound of the voice (human like v mechanical). Results gathered during the interactions point out a preference for the agent, for the human-like voice and a more intense reaction to stimuli by illiterates. These results provide useful indications that should be considered when designing a receptionist robot, as well as insights on the effect of illiteracy in the interaction.
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Paladyn. Journal of Behavioral Robotics is a fully peer-reviewed, open access journal that publishes original, high-quality research works and review articles on topics broadly related to neuronally and psychologically inspired robots and other behaving autonomous systems. The journal is indexed in SCOPUS.