Theory of Mind in Social Robots: Replication of Five Established Human Tests

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Theory of Mind is an inferential system central to human–human communication by which people ascribe mental states to self and other, and then use those deductions to make predictions about others’ behaviors. Despite the likelihood that ToM may also be central to interactions with other types of agents exhibiting similar cues, it is not yet fully known whether humans develop ToM for mechanical agents exhibiting properties of intelligence and sociality. A suite of five tests for implicit ToM were performed (white lie test, behavioral intention task, facial affect inference, vocal affect inference, and false-belief test) for three different robots and a human control. Findings suggest that implicit ToM signals are consistent across variably human-like robots and humans, so long as the social cues are similar and interpretable, but there is no association between implicit ToM signals and explicit mind ascription; findings suggest that heuristics and deliberation of mental status of robots may compete with implicit social-cognitive reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Mind perception
  • Social cognition
  • Social scripts
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Theory of Mind in Social Robots: Replication of Five Established Human Tests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this