Theory of Robot Communication: II. Befriending a robot over time

Johan F. Hoorn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In building on theories of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), Human-Robot Interaction, and Media Psychology (Mψ; i.e., Theory of Affective Bonding), this paper proposes an explanation of how over time, people experience the mediated or simulated aspects of the interaction with a social robot. In two simultaneously running loops, a more reflective process is balanced with a more affective process. If human interference is detected behind the machine, Robot-Mediated Communication commences, which basically follows CMC assumptions; if human interference remains undetected, Human-Robot Communication (HRC) comes into play, holding the robot for an autonomous social actor. The more emotionally aroused a robot user is, the more likely they develop an affective relationship with what actually is a machine. The main contribution of this paper is an integration of CMC, HRC, and Mψ, outlining a full-blown theory of robot communication connected to friendship formation, accounting for communicative features, modes of processing, as well as psychophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2050027
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Humanoid Robotics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was performed as part of the employment of the author at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the PAL project of the Arti¯cial Intelligence in Design Laboratory (grant number: AiDLab RP2P3). The part at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam was supported by Communicating with and Relating to Social Robots: Alice Meets Leolani, NWO Open Competition −− Digitalisation (SSH) (grant number: 406.DI.19.005) and VUvereniging (grant number: AB/rk/2019/100). I am thankful to Elly A. Konijn and the anonymous reviewers for commenting on an earlier draft of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • artificial friendship
  • human-robot interaction
  • language
  • neurology of emotion
  • Robot communication theory


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