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.

1 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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