23 January 2024

Personality of Robot and AI


Humanity's inherent sociability plays a pivotal role in our daily lives. The concept of personality is fundamental, providing a framework for consistency and predictability in human interactions. We instinctively attribute personalities to others based on various cues, valuing coherence as it enables us to anticipate and understand behaviours in social contexts.

The advent of social robots—encompassing companions, assistants, educators, and caregivers—heralds a significant expansion of our social landscape. Defined as embodied agents capable of recognising, interacting, and participating in social dynamics, these robots must fulfil dual roles: performing tasks beneficial to humans and behaving in socially acceptable ways. Parallel to this, the rise of ChatGPT-like language models in individual and team settings, especially when integrated into robots, underscores a shift in human-technology interactions.

How essential is it, in the evolving landscape of human-robot interaction, to implement an integrated personality approach in AI and robot design, one that is finely attuned to the cultural and social expectations of users?

Designing AI and robots requires an integrated personality approach tailored to users' cultural and social expectations.

Designing AI and robots demands an integrated personality approach that aligns with users' cultural and social expectations. This necessity stems from three key reasons: firstly, the crucial role of personality in social robot and AI design; secondly, the requirement for a holistic approach in crafting specific personalities for these technologies; and thirdly, the importance of considering user traits, societal stereotypes, and cultural influences when selecting a robot's personality. 

In the following text, we will delve into these reasons, providing evidence and insights to underscore the significance of each factor in the development of effective and relatable AI and robotic systems.

In the design of social robots/AI, it's crucial to incorporate the personality dimension.

Incorporating personality into the design of social robots and AI isn't just a feature; it's a core aspect of their architecture. As humans, our interactions with robots naturally extend into the psychological realm, where we subconsciously attribute human-like personalities to these entities. This phenomenon, reinforced by anthropomorphism, the ELIZA effect, and the suspension of disbelief, has profound implications: it can greatly enrich human-robot interactions but also bears the risk of deception if users' emotional and cognitive responses are not carefully considered.

Anthropomorphism drives us to seek human traits in robots, influencing our expectations and engagement levels. From one of the first chatbots, the ELIZA effect demonstrates our readiness to attribute understanding and empathy to programmed responses. Meanwhile, suspending disbelief allows us to interact with AI as if they were sentient, overlooking the artificial nature for a more seamless experience.

These psychological effects can yield positive outcomes, like improved interaction quality in customer service or therapy, but also pose challenges like emotional deception, overestimated capabilities, and privacy misconceptions, leading to potential reliance on AI in critical decision-making where it may fall short.

The emerging evidence suggests that robots can possess a genuine personality, not just projected by users but as a fundamental aspect of their system—through emergent behaviour or deliberate programming. Studies have shown that AI like ChatGPT can exhibit consistent personality types (Huang at al., 2023) and emotional intelligence traits (Schaaff at al. 2023), affirming their capacity for genuine social interactions. 

Understanding these dynamics is crucial, as a well-personalized robot can significantly enhance the quality of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), proving particularly beneficial in therapeutic settings where personality can foster a therapeutic rapport (Šabanović, et al., 2013). Furthermore, a robot's personality can mitigate the uncanny valley's unsettling effects, creating a more pleasant and accepted presence in social contexts(Paetzel-Prüsmann et al., 2021).

This intricate interplay of psychological projection and inherent AI personality traits underscores the importance of thoughtful personality design in robots, which is crucial and advantageous for creating meaningful and effective human-AI relationships.

Crafting a specific personality for robots and AI involves a holistic approach.

Mou et al. (2020) researched the characteristics that define a robot's personality in robotics and artificial intelligence. They categorised these into six domains, emphasising the importance of each in crafting a robot's identity. The visual appeal, whether anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, caricatured, or functional, plays a pivotal role, with preferences varying depending on the social context and intended interaction. Hwang & Hwang (2013) further explored how physical design influences the perception of a robot's emotional range and personality traits.

Linguistic expression also plays a crucial role, as Tapus et al. (2008) noted the distinct impact of an extroverted versus introverted expressive style. Jiang et al. (2023) demonstrated that AIs like ChatGPT could align their output with targeted prompts to specific personality models such as the Big Five.

Vocal features, including pace, rhythm, intonation, and pitch, are vital for expressing different personality dimensions. Similarly, movement and kinetics—how a robot moves its limbs or maintains eye contact—contribute to the perceived personality, with larger and faster movements often associated with extroverted traits.

These elements, including proxemics—how physical space is used during interaction—shape the robot's personality, influencing human-robot interaction dynamics. Zabala et al. (2021) suggest that kinesic communication, which includes body language, can be modulated to suit the narrative context, potentially serving as a tool for personality adjustment.

Lee et al. (2012) argue for adaptable personality systems in robots, which can be tuned to user preferences, providing a framework for personalising interactions. This adaptable approach ensures that the robot's personality is not just a static feature but an evolving aspect of its interactions with humans.

Selecting a robot's personality hinges on user traits, societal stereotypes, and cultural influences.

Selecting a robot's personality is not a straightforward task—it requires navigating the complexities of human psychology, social expectations, and cultural diversity. The theories of Similarity-Attraction and Complementary personality interactions guide us in understanding individual preferences for robots that either mirror one's traits or provide contrasting characteristics that complete them. Societal stereotypes further influence these preferences, as individuals often lean toward robots that conform to traditional roles associated with specific occupations, genders, and personality types, such as the classic distinctions between security and healthcare roles or extroverted and introverted temperaments (Tay & Park, 2014).

Beyond these factors, cultural nuances significantly sway the personality design of robots (Marchesi & Wykowska, 2023). Each culture brings unique expectations and comfort levels with different traits, underscoring the need for cultural sensitivity in developing robot personalities. Respecting and integrating these cultural distinctions ensures that robots can interact effectively and respectfully within diverse social landscapes, making the design of their personalities a task that must carefully balance universal human psychology with the wide variety of human cultures.


In conclusion, our exploration affirms that designing AI and robots necessitates an integrated personality approach, one that is meticulously tailored to users' cultural and social expectations. This approach is foundational due to three main reasons: the essential role of personality in the design of social robots and AI, the need for a holistic methodology in crafting these personalities, and the importance of considering user traits, societal stereotypes, and cultural nuances in selecting a robot's personality. As we apply psychological principles to robots, this emerging field could lay the groundwork for a new discipline: the 'psychology of robots', blending technology and human psychology for future innovations in human-robot interaction.


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