Abstract

Roboticists believe that people will have an unpleasant impression of a humanoid robot that has an almost, but not perfectly, realistic human appearance. This is called the uncanny valley, and is not limited to robots, but is also applicable to any type of human-like object, such as dolls, masks, facial caricatures, avatars in virtual reality, and characters in computer graphics movies. The present study investigated the uncanny valley by measuring observers' impressions of facial images whose degree of realism was manipulated by morphing between artificial and real human faces. Facial images yielded the most unpleasant impressions when they were highly realistic, supporting the hypothesis of the uncanny valley. However, the uncanny valley was confirmed only when morphed faces had abnormal features such as bizarre eyes. These results suggest that to have an almost perfectly realistic human appearance is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the uncanny valley. The uncanny valley emerges only when there is also an abnormal feature.

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