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Agnieszka Wykowska

Senior Researcher Tenure Track - Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator, ERC starting grant "InStance"

Research Line

Social cognition in human-robot interaction


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


+39 010 2897 242


Agnieszka Wykowska is PI of the Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction (S4HRI) research line at the Italian Institute of Technology, Genova. She is also affiliated with the Luleå University of Technology, Sweden as adjunct professor in Engineering Psychology. Her research focuses on social cognitive neuroscience and human-robot interaction. She uses behavioral measures (eyetracking, psychophysics) and EEG in HRI research. She obtained PhD in Psychology from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (LMU) in 2008. Her background is cognitive neuroscience (M.Sc. in neuro-cognitive psychology, LMU, 2006) and philosophy (M.A. in philosophy, Jagiellonian University Krakow, Poland, 2001). She is an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Social Robotics, and Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychology (Cognition) and she has served as a member of the Program Committee for the International Conference on Social Robotics (2010-2016), Human-Agent Interaction (2016, 2017) and Human-Robot Interaction (2016). In 2013 she received an Early Stage Career Prize at the COST meeting “The future concept and reality of Social Robotics: challenges, perception and applications - Role of Social Robotics in current and future society”. In 2016 she has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant “Intentional Stance for Social Attunement”: InStance


Human-robot interaction social cognition social cognitive neuroscience



2017-2022: "Intentional Stance for Social Attunement", ERC Starting grant, sole PI


2015-2016: "Predictive enhancement and inhibition in the context of actions", co-PI with Prof. Heiner Deubel, Ludwig-Maximilians University, project funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)

2013-2015: "Humans as intentional agents: the action-related intentional weighting mechanism across various modalities and cognitive domains", sole PI, project funded by the DFG

2013-2015: "The influence of action planning on various cognitive processes in the human brain – the embodied cognition perspective", sole PI, project funded by the LMUExcellence initiative

2012-2014: "Perceptual and cognitive mechanisms underlying joint social context in human-robot interaction", co-PI with Prof. Hermann Müller, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, project funded by the DFG

Selected Publications


Kompatsiari, K., Ciardo, F., De Tommaso, D., & Wykowska, A. (accepted) Measuring engagement elicited by eye contact in Human-Robot Interaction, 2019 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Macau

Perez-Osorio, J. & Wykowska, A. (accepted) Adopting the intentional stance toward natural and artificial agents. Philosophical Psychology.

Kajopoulos, J., Cheng, G., Kise, K., Mueller, H., & Wykowska, A. (accepted). Focusing on the face or getting distracted by social signals? The effect of distracting gestures on attentional focus in natural interaction. Psychological Research.

Willemse, C., & Wykowska, A. (2019). In natural interaction with embodied robots we prefer it when they follow our gaze: a gaze-contingent mobile eyetracking study. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B., 374: 20180036, doi:

Kompatsiari, K., Ciardo, F., Tikhanoff, V., Metta, A., & Wykowska, A. (2019). It’s in the Eyes: The Engaging Role of Eye Contact in HRI. International Journal of Social Robotics.

Marchesi, S., Ghiglino, D., Ciardo, F., Perez-Osorio, J., Baykara, E., Wykowska, A. (2019). Do we adopt the Intentional Stance towards humanoid robots? Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00450

Schellen, E., Wykowska, A. (2019). Intentional mindset toward robots—open questions and methodological challenges. Frontiers in Robotics and AI 5:139. doi: 10.3389/frobt.2018.00139

Havlicek, O., Mueller, H., Wykowska, A. (2019). Distract yourself: prediction of salient distractors by own actions and external cues. Psychological Research. 83, 159-174,

Ciardo, F., De Tommaso, D., Beyer, F., & Wykowska, A. (2019). Humans socially attune to their “follower” robot. 14th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), doi: 10.1109/HRI.2019.8673262

Cross, E., Hortensius, R., Wykowska, A. (2019) From social brains to social robots: Applying neurocognitive insights to human-robot interaction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, doi:

De Tommaso, D. & Wykowska, A. (2019). TobiiGlassesPySuite: an open-source suite for using the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 in eye-tracking studies. In Proceedings of the 11th ACM Symposium on Eye Tracking Research & Applications (ETRA '19). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 46. DOI:

Perez-Osorio J., & Wykowska A. (2019) Adopting the Intentional Stance Towards Humanoid Robots. In: Laumond JP., Danblon E., Pieters C. (eds) Wording Robotics. Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, vol 130. Springer, Cham


Carlson, K., Hong Yee Wong, A., Tran Anh Dung, M. S., Wong Chern Yuen, A., Tan, Y. K., Wykowska, A. (2018). Training autistic children on joint attention skills with a robot. International Conference on Social Robotics, China, Springer Lecture Notes on Artificial Intelligence (LNAI), 11357, 86-92, doi:

Ciardo, F., De Tommaso, D., Beyer, F., Wykowska, A. (2018). Reduced Sense of Agency in Human-Robot interaction. International Conference on Social Robotics, China, Springer Lecture Notes on Artificial Intelligence (LNAI), 11357, 441-450, doi:

Ciardo, F., Wykowska, A. (2018). Response Coordination Emerges in Cooperative but Not Competitive Joint Task. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:1919. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01919

Ghiglino, D., De Tommaso, D. Wykowska, A. (2018). Attributing human-likeness to an avatar: the role of time and space in the perception of biological motion. International Conference on Social Robotics, China, Springer Lecture Notes on Artificial Intelligence (LNAI), 11357, 400-409, doi:

Kompatsiari, K., Pérez-Osorio, J., De Tommaso, D., Metta, G., Wykowska, A. (2018). Neuroscientifically-grounded research for improved human-robot interaction. 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Madrid, Spain, 3403-3408.

Kompatsiari, K., Ciardo, F., Tikhanoff, V., Metta, A., Wykowska, A. (in press). On the role of eye contact in gaze cueing. Scientific Reports, preprint available at:

Schellen, E., Pérez-Osorio, J., & Wykowska, A. (2018). Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction: Putting the ‘H’ back in ‘HRI’. ERCIM News 114, Special theme: Human-Robot Interaction. (Eds) Serena Ivaldi and Maria Pateraki. Online: 

Pérez-Osorio, J., De Tommaso, D., Baykara, E., Wykowska, A. (2018). Joint action with iCub: a successful adaptation of a paradigm of cognitive neuroscience in HRI. The 27th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), IEEE, pp. 152-157, doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2018.8525536

Willemse, C., Marchesi, S., Wykowska, A. (2018). Robot Faces that Follow Gaze Facilitate Attentional Engagement and Increase Their Likeability. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:70. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00070

Wykowska, A. (2018). Ride the wave of uncertainty. Featured in: Smaglik, P. Beating the odds to secure a permanent contract. Nature, 562, S49-S51, doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06873-5


Natale, L., Bartolozzi, C., Pucci, D., Wykowska, A., Metta, G. (2017). The not-yet-finished story of building a robot child. Science Robotics, Vol. 2, Issue 13, eaaq1026 DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaq1026

Kompatsiari K., Tikhanoff V., Ciardo F., Metta G., Wykowska A. (2017) The Importance of Mutual Gaze in Human-Robot Interaction. In: Kheddar A. et al. (eds) Social Robotics. ICSR 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10652, Springer, 443-452. DOI:

Wiese, E., Metta, G., Wykowska, A. (2017). Robots as Intentional Agents: Using neuroscientific methods to make robots appear more social. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:1663, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01663

Wykowska, A. (2017). Modality-specific interference between action planning and perceptual processing. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, online first, DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2017.1379524 

Pérez-Osorio, J., Müller, H., Wykowska, A. (2017). Expectations regarding action sequences modulate electrophysiological correlates of the gaze-cueing effect. Psychophysiology. DOI 10.1111/psyp.12854

Johansson, J., Abrahamsson, L., Bergvall Kåreborn, B., Fältholm, Y., Grane, C., Wykowska, A. (2017). Work and Organization in a Digital Industrial Context. Management Revue 28, 281-297.

Özdem, C, Wiese, E., Wykowska, A., Müller, H., Brass, M., van Overwalle, F. (2017). Believing Androids? Attentional Reorientation and Belief Manipulation with an Anthropomorphic Robot. Social Neuroscience, 12, 582-593. doi:


Wykowska, A., Chaminade, T., & Cheng, G. (2016). Embodied artificial agents for understanding human social cognition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London: B. Biological Sciences, 371, 20150375.


Pérez-Osorio, J., Müller, H., Wiese, E., Wykowska, A. (2015). Gaze following in the context of complex action scenarios. PLOS ONE 10(11): e0143614. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0143614

Wykowska, A., Kajopoulos, J., Obando-Leitón, M., Chauhan, S., Cabibihan, J.J., Cheng, G. (2015). Humans are well tuned to detecting agents among non-agents: Examining the sensitivity of human perception to behavioral characteristics of intentional agents. International Journal of Social Robotics. Online first. doi: 10.1007/s12369-015-0299-6

Wykowska, A.,* Kajopoulos, J.,* Ramirez-Amaro, K., Cheng, G. (2015). Autistic traits inversely correlate with implicit sensitivity to human-like behavior. * equal contribution. Interaction Studies, 16:2, 219-248.

Kajopoulos, J., Wong, A. H. Y., Yuen, A. W. C., Dung, T. A., Tan, Y. K., Wykowska, A. (2015). Robot-Assisted Training of Joint Attention Skills in Children Diagnosed with Autism. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 296-305.


Wykowska, A.*, Wiese, E.*, Prosser, A., Müller, H.J. (2014). Beliefs about the minds of others influence how we process sensory information. PLOS ONE, 9 (4), e94339, *equal contribution

Wykowska, A., Chellali, R., Al-Amin, M. Md., Müller, H.J. (2014). Implications of Robot Actions for Human Perception. How Do We Represent Actions of the Observed Robots? International Journal of Social Robotics, 6 (3), 357-366.

Wiese, E., Wykowska, A., Müller, H. (2014). What we observe is biased by what other people tell us: Beliefs about the reliability of gaze behavior modulate attentional orienting to gaze cues, PLOS ONE, 9 (4), e94529.

Wiese, E., Müller, H.J., Wykowska, A. (2014). Using a gaze-cueing paradigm to examine social cognitive mechanisms of individuals with autism observing robot and human faces. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Springer, 8755, pp 370-379.

Ehrlich, S., Wykowska, A., Ramirez-Amaro, K., Cheng. G. (2014). When to engage in interaction - and how? EEG-based enhancement of robot’s ability to sense social signals in HRI. Proceedings of the Humanoids Conference 2014, IEEE Xplore


Leszczynski, M.*, Wykowska, A.*, Pérez-Osorio, J., Müller, H.J. (2013). Deployment of spatial attention towards locations in memory representations. An EEG Study. PLOS ONE 8(12):e83856; *equal contribution

Feldmann-Wüstefeld, T., Wykowska, A., Schubö, A. (2013). Context heterogeneity has a sustained impact on attention deployment: Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence. Psychophysiology, 50, 722-733

Wykowska, A., Anderl, C., Schubö, A., Hommel, B. (2013). Motivation modulates visual attention: Evidence from pupillometry. Frontiers in Psychology, 4:59. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00059

Wiese, E., Wykowska, A., Müller, H. (2013). Making eyes with robots: Readiness to engage in Human-Robot Interaction depends on the attribution of intentionality. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 57, 1174-1178.


Wykowska, A., Hommel, B., Schubö, A. (2012). Imaging when acting: picture but not word cues induce action-related biases of visual attention. Frontiers in Psychology, 3:388. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00388

Wykowska, A., Schubö, A. (2012). Action intentions modulate allocation of visual attention: electrophysiological evidence. Frontiers in Psychology, 3: 379. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00379

Wiese, E.*, Wykowska, A.*, Zwickel, J., Müller, H.J. (2012), I see what you mean: how attentional selection is shaped by ascribing intentions to others. PLoS ONE 7(9): e45391; *equal contribution

Wykowska, A., Schubö, A. (2012). Perception and action as two sides of the same coin. A review of the importance of action-perception links in humans for social robot design and research. International Journal of Social Robotics, 1, 5-14.

Wykowska, A., Chellali, R., Al-Amin, M., Müller, H. (2012). Does observing artificial robotic systems influence human perceptual processing in the same way as observing humans? Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 7621, Springer, 327–337.


Wykowska, A., Hommel, B., Schubö, A. (2011). Action-induced effects on perception depend neither on element-level nor on set-level similarity between stimulus and response sets. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 73, 1034-1041.

Wykowska, A., Schubö, A. (2011). Irrelevant singletons in visual search do not capture attention but can produce non-spatial filtering costs. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 645–660.

Wykowska, A., Maldonado, A., Beetz, M., Schubö, A. (2011). How humans optimize their interaction with the environment: The impact of action context on human perception. International Journal of Social Robotics, 3, 223-231.


Wykowska, A., Schubö, A. (2010). On the temporal relation of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms during guidance of attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 640-654.

Wykowska, A., Schubö, A. (2010). Selecting when acting: how human perception is tuned to action goals and how robotics can benefit from that. Social Robotics. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 6414, Springer, 275-285.

Wykowska, A., Schubö, A., Hommel, B. (2009). How you move is what you see: Action planning biases selection in visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 1755-1769.

Schubö, A., Wykowska, A., Müller, H. (2007). Detecting pop-out targets in contexts of varying homogeneity: Investigating homogeneity coding with event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Brain Research, 1138, 136-147.


Book contribution

Wykowska, A., & Arstila, V. (2014). On the flexibility of human temporal resolution. In: Arstila, V., & Lloyd, D (Eds.) Subjective Time. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, pp. 431-453.

Book Review

Wykowska, A., & Rangelov, D. (2014) Review of: Brian Bruya (Ed.) Effortless Attention. A New Perspective in the Cognitive Science of Attention and Action. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, A Bradford Book, 2010. Journal of Consciousness Studies. pp. 209-215


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Accetta e chiudi

I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.