Social Robots as Creativity Eliciting Agents

Aug. 15, 2021

Ali, S., Devasia, N., Park, H. W., & Breazeal, C. (2021). Social Robots as Creativity Eliciting Agents. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 8.


Can robots help children be more creative? In this work, we posit social robots as creativity support tools for children in collaborative interactions. Children learn creative expressions and behaviors through social interactions with others during playful and collaborative tasks, and socially emulate their peers’ and teachers’ creativity. Social robots have a unique ability to engage in social and emotional interactions with children that can be leveraged to foster creative expression. We focus on two types of social interactions: creativity demonstration, where the robot exhibits creative behaviors, and creativity scaffolding, where the robot poses challenges, suggests ideas, provides positive reinforcement, and asks questions to scaffold children’s creativity. We situate our research in three playful and collaborative tasks - the Droodle Creativity game (that affords verbal creativity), the MagicDraw game (that affords figural creativity), and the WeDo construction task (that affords constructional creativity), that children play with Jibo, a social robot. To evaluate the efficacy of the robot’s social behaviors in enhancing creative behavior and expression in children, we ran three randomized controlled trials with 169 children in the 5–10 yr old age group. In the first two tasks, the robot exhibited creativity demonstration behaviors. We found that children who interacted with the robot exhibiting high verbal creativity in the Droodle game and high figural creativity in the MagicDraw game also exhibited significantly higher creativity than a control group of participants who interacted with a robot that did not express creativity (p < 0.05*). In the WeDo construction task, children who interacted with the robot that expressed creative scaffolding behaviors (asking reflective questions, generating ideas and challenges, and providing positive reinforcement) demonstrated higher creativity than participants in the control group by expressing a greater number of ideas, more original ideas, and more varied use of available materials (p < 0.05*). We found that both creativity demonstration and creativity scaffolding can be leveraged as social mechanisms for eliciting creativity in children using a social robot. From our findings, we suggest design guidelines for pedagogical tools and social agent interactions to better support children’s creativity.

Related Content