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Autistic adults invited to take part in a study about robots and autism

To make robots more accessible to autistic people, the University of Twente (Netherlands) invites autistic adults to participate in an online research study. It takes 10 to 15 minutes, and can be accessed from any computer until November 18th.

The study can be accessed through this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WTJLMGJ

The University of Twente invites adults on the autism spectrum to participate in a research study which aims to find out how participants see and interpret the behaviour of a robot that is interacting with an adult.

Criteria for participating in the online study are the following:

  • Having received an official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition, or consider yourself to be on the autism spectrum.
  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Be able to understand both written and spoken English.

When participating in this study, participants will watch a short video of 1 minute and 10 seconds of a person interacting with a robot. After watching the video, they will be asked a few questions about the content of the video, what they thought of the robot, and their background. The questionnaires as well as the video of the interaction are only available in English, so being proficient in written and spoken English is required. All responses are stored anonymously.

At the end of the questionnaire, the goal of the study is explained in more detail. The study will remain available until November 15th, 2019, or until 300 people participated. Participants are asked to refrain from discussing the contents of the study with others who may also want to participate, or on platforms where they can read about it, until the study is closed.

Study background

Many people  interact with computers on a daily basis, for example by using a laptop, a smartphone, or a personal computer, and have grown used to it. Robots on the other hand are  not yet part of our daily lives, but they likely will be in the future. Robots should be accessible to all and it requires that they can accommodate  people’s differences.

It is known that autistic people see the world around them differently from neurotypicals. This may also have an impact on how they see and interpret robot behaviour.

Unfortunately, very little is known today about how autistic people interpret the behaviour of a robot. This is problematic, because without this knowledge, robots may be unpleasant to interact with as their behaviour may not be understandable or comfortable.