Attributing human properties to computer artifacts: Developmental changes in children’s understanding of the animate-inanimate distinction
Mikropoulos, Tassos A.
Αντίληψη αντικειμένου -- Αντίληψη στα παιδιά -- Perception in children --
Ελληνική Ψυχολογική Εταιρεία
In the last twenty years, the objects in children's lives have come to include ''intelligent" machines such as computers and robots. Answers to questions aboutchildren's developing ability to make the animate-inanimate distinction must thus be renegotiated in the context of these new artifacts. We report a study about the attributional judgements of 54 children aged 3-5 years, to a person, a robot, and a computer. Questions were asked about these items': (i) unobservable internal properties, ability to (ii) initiate action, (iii) have mental states, (v) experience emotions, (vi) bodily sensations and, finally, (vii) their life status. The results showed a clear difference in response patterns for the three test items. At all ages participants demonstrated a coherent understanding of the properties of humans. In contrast, they tended to attribute animate properties to the two computer artifacts. Robots attracted more animistic attributions than computers. The results also indicated that with older age children's animistic attributions give way to a fuller awareness of the nature of computer artifacts.