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Robots can help people be more 'creative' as long as they do this: study

A new study is suggesting that robots with more “charismatic” voices – as opposed to flat, matter-of-fact ones – can help people be more creative. 

Scientists from Denmark found that students who are given a task by a robot with a voice programmed to be more “engaging” and “inspiring” performed better.

These students were also more creative than students who received instructions from an identical robot with a flat voice, according to the findings from researchers in Denmark as published by Frontiers in Communication, a peer-reviewed, open-access science journal. 

But the Danish research team wanted to determine if the sounds emitted by a robot actually affected the students’ performance.

programmed robot

Denmark-based researchers found that a robot with a “charismatic” voice can help people be more creative, as opposed to an identical robot with a flat voice, according to findings published in the journal Frontiers in Communication.  (SNWS)

While teamwork is a key factor in human creativity, boosting collaboration and new ideas, the researchers said they wanted to understand whether robots using a voice designed to sound charismatic would be more “successful” as creativity facilitators.

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Said Dr. Kerstin Fischer of the University of Southern Denmark, one of the study’s authors, “We had a robot instruct teams of students in a creativity task. The robot either used a confident, passionate – i.e., charismatic – tone of voice or a normal, matter-of-fact tone of voice,” as SNWS reported.

She went on, “We found that when the robot spoke in a charismatic speaking style, students’ ideas were more original and more elaborate.”

A robot speaking on video “led” the workshop. 

Their perception of their teamwork was also more positive and they produced more original and elaborate ideas. 

“Our study provides clear evidence for the effect of charismatic speech on listener creativity.”

Study co-author Dr. Oliver Niebuhr, also of the University of Southern Denmark, said, “I had suspected that charismatic speech has very important effects, but our study provides clear evidence for the effect of charismatic speech on listener creativity,” as SWNS reported of his remarks.

The scientists said that bigger studies are needed to understand how external factors affected team performance.

She also said, “We have only varied a few features between the two robot conditions. We don’t know how the effect size would change if other or more features were varied.”

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