With a title like that, you’d think I’d have some kind of beef with research. Another advertising creative type having a rant about the tyranny of focus groups, railing about the dreaded “r” word.
Not exactly. I’d just like to be able to ask it more questions.
This is the thought that popped into my head when I first ran into this bit of semi-creepy weirdness from MIT:
This is a device that’s supposed to aid communication by mirroring our hand gestures, head movements and something called “proxemics“. All those non-verbal cues that might not otherwise make it through a screen. Its an interesting idea, even if it results in what looks like a stubby armed kid’s toy wheeling around your desktop.
Here’s what really got me thinking about this though: When they researched people using this thing, here’s what they found (emphasis mine):
We conducted an experiment that evaluated how people perceived a robot-mediated operator differently when they used a static telerobot versus a physically embodied and expressive telerobot. Results showed that people felt more psychologically involved and more engaged in the interaction with their remote partners when they were embodied in a socially expressive way. People also reported much higher levels of cooperation both on their own part and their partners as well as a higher score for enjoyment in the interaction.
More engaged? A higher score for enjoyment in the interaction? Is that really all that surprising? This is a brand new experience, so surely you would pay more attention, right? At least you would the first time your boss uses it to give you a remote dressing down with a shake of a tiny fist. But how do they allow for the novelty factor? Is the engagement that the participants feel because of the additional levels of nonverbal communication being broadcast by our shrunken mechanical friend? Or is it just because its something new and different?
The results of research are often written to prove a point. They want to be the final word, the end of the conversation. That’s what I mean when I say I’d like to be able to ask it more questions. Because when it comes to advertising, it has the potential to be incredibly powerful. But its not just a matter of finding out how people react to something. Its just as important to find out why.
Original article here.