A Motivational Approach to Support Healthy Habits in Long-term Child–Robot Interaction

Raquel Ros, Elettra Oleari, Clara Pozzi, Francesca Sacchitelli, Daniele Baranzini, Anahita Bagherzadhalimi, Alberto Sanna, Yiannis Demiris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the use of role-switching as an intrinsic motivational mechanism to increase engagement in long-term child–robot interaction. The present study describes a learning framework where children between 9 and 11-years-old interact with a robot to improve their knowledge and habits with regards to healthy life-styles. Experiments were carried out in Italy where 41 children were divided in three groups interacting with: (i) a robot with a role-switching mechanism, (ii) a robot without a role-switching mechanism and (iii) an interactive video. Additionally, a control group composed of 43 more children, who were not exposed to any interactive approach, was used as a baseline of the study. During the intervention period, the three groups were exposed to three interactive sessions once a week. The aim of the study was to find any difference in healthy-habits acquisition based on alternative interactive systems, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the role-switch approach as a trigger for engagement and motivation while interacting with a robot. The results provide evidence that the rate of children adopting healthy habits during the intervention period was higher for those interacting with a robot. Moreover, alignment with the robot behaviour and achievement of higher engagement levels were also observed for those children interacting with the robot that used the role-switching mechanism. This supports the notion that role-switching facilitates sustained long-interactions between a child and a robot.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-617
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Child–robot interaction
  • Creative dance
  • Engagement
  • Long-term interaction
  • Motivational support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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