We are interested in conditions under which humans socially attune with the iCub, and whether this depends on attribution of intentionality to the robot. The research line is closely related to the ERC grant “Intentional Stance for social attunement”, which shall determine – with a series of nonverbal Turing tests – robot’s behavioural characteristics (for example, timing of eye movements, reaction to salient attention-capturing environmental events) that elicit attribution of mind.

Results of this research line shall impact:

  • fundamental research question in social cognitive neuroscience: what makes us attribute intentional agency to others…
  • robotics: guidelines on how to design (behavioural) characteristics of humanoids to make them attuned to the needs of the human brain
  • applied domains: robot assistance for health- and elderly care and therapy

The research line “Social cognition in human-robot interaction” will enable creation of assistive robots easy to accept as social interaction partners.


Research activities of “Social cognition in human-robot interaction” are located in the Center for Human Technologies as IIT-Erzelli. Specifically, the HRI-iCub lab and cognitive neuroscience lab are dedicated to this research line, equipped with an iCub robot, an EEG system, a mobile eyetracker and four workstations for behavioural and psychophysical experiments.