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What Could a Social Mediator Robot Do? Lessons from Real-World Mediation Scenarios

Thomas Weisswange, Hifza Javed, Manuel Dietrich, Tuan Pham, Maria Parriera, Michael Sack, Nawid Jamali, "What Could a Social Mediator Robot Do? Lessons from Real-World Mediation Scenarios", 40th IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2023) Workshop: Towards a Balanced Cyberphysical Society: A Focus on Group Social Dynamics, 2023.


The use of social robots as instruments for social mediation has been gaining traction in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). The design of such robots and their behaviors is often driven by technological platforms and experimental set-ups which can be created in a laboratory. To gain relevance for changing social relations of people in the real world however, it is also important to incorporate existing needs and implications of everyday situations with respect to when a mediator is needed, what role it needs to fill, and which dynamics it should influence. In this paper, we discuss six relevant roles for robotic mediators, that have been found through investigating a collection of videos showing realistic group situations, partially with human mediators. We further describe mediation behaviors and potential target measures to evaluate the success of interventions with respect to social group qualities and discuss existing work that tries to address (parts of) these roles. We hope that our findings can inspire future research on robot-assisted social mediation by highlighting a wider set of mediation applications than those considered in previous studies. Specifically, our findings may provide insights into the choice of interaction scenarios where a social mediator robot can be effective to improve social dynamics of human groups in the real world.

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