Uncanny valley of the dolls

Human-computer interaction scientist Karl MacDorman has produced a fantastically illustrated video lecture on the psychology of the ‘uncanny valley‘ – the effect where androids become creepy when they’re almost human.

It comes in seven 3-4 minute sections, each of which is packed with some completely fascinating science and some wonderful examples of humanoid androids in action and how people react to them.

It’s a bit hard to navigate the YouTube links between sections, so I’ve collected the links to all the parts of the talk, entitled ‘Charting the Uncanny Valley’, below:

1. Introduction
2. Form Dynamics Contingency
3. Human Perception
4. Do Looks Matter?
5. Android Science
6. Explanations
7. What makes a robot uncanny?

While reviewing the whole area of android – human interaction, MacDorman seems to have done some fascinating research himself, often taking paradigms from existing psychology studies and seeing how androids alter the experience.

For example, in one study [pdf] he morphed android faces with human ones (using Philip K Dick as the human face!) and measured how the images trigger differing feelings of familiarity, eeriness and the like.

A very well spent 20 minutes and a great introduction to a fascinating area.

pdf of MacDorman’s paper on the Uncanny Valley.
Link to MeFi post which alerted me to the lecture.

One thought on “Uncanny valley of the dolls”

  1. Thanks for organizing those videos, Vaughan — that makes it a lot easier. I genuinely believe there are living people who fall into the valley, too.
    I love this post’s headline, by the way.

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