Configuring Humans: What Roles Humans Play in HRI Research

Hee Rin Lee, Eun Jeong Cheon, Chaeyun Lim, Kerstin Fischer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

18 Scopus citations


Humans are an essential part of human-robot interaction (HRI), but what roles do they play in HRI research? Analysis of the role of human subjects in research can serve as an indicator of how the HRI community engages with society. In this paper, we examine humans' roles in the HRI studies published at the ACM HRI conference over the course of 16 years (between 2006-2021). We categorize the studies into three groups. The studies in the first group investigated human nature and studied humans as interchangeable subjects; the studies in the second group addressed humans as users of robots in certain contexts; the third group of studies approached humans as social actors who are closely connected to other actors and thereby generate social dynamics. The contributions of this paper are twofold: First, we reveal the patterns of how humans have been included in HRI studies. Specifically, we find that more than half of the studies limited the role of humans to interchangeable and generalizable actors. Second, we outline three opportunities for the HRI community that arise if human subjects are given more diversified roles in HRI research - opportunities for diversity, social justice, and reflexivity. On this basis, we call for a more socially -engaged research in HRI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHRI 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781538685549
StatePublished - 2022
Event17th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2022 - Sapporo, Japan
Duration: Mar 7 2022Mar 10 2022

Publication series

NameACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
ISSN (Electronic)2167-2148


Conference17th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2022


  • diversity
  • epistemology
  • method/methodology
  • reflexivity
  • robots
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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