ESR6: Communicating emotion and needs: can social robots interpret and respond to carer needs or help reduce the ‘load’?

Work package 2
ESR Guy Laban
Supervisor Prof. Emily Cross & Prof. Valerie Morrison
Co-supervisor Prof. Giuseppe Riva
Host institution University of Glasgow, the United Kingdom
Contact ESR
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Objectives: To innovate by examining whether social robots can interpret and respond to carer needs, and help reduce the ‘load’.

Caregiver needs for personalized support has been recognized Some caregivers feel a lack of support or do not have a confident. Could a social robot fill this need? The ESR, working with the SoBA Lab at Bangor and Consequential Robotics at Bristol (and Sheffield) will address such questions as ‘can social robots interpret and respond to carer needs, and help reduce the ‘load’? The extent to which robots can be developed with cognitive architecture which can respond to human vocalisations of needs and emotion with supportive responses, or appropriate assistive tasks is an exciting new area of work. Do caregivers differentially voice negative emotions and needs regarding their role dependent on who (a person) or what (a robot) is listening or responding? Do social/assistive/companion robots have the ability to perceive and respond to expression of emotion and needs? The above questions will be addressed using a series of experiments conducted in the SoBA Lab initially and then potentially in naturalistic settings. For example, by comparing the expression of emotions and needs, and its consequences, using written disclosure methods, face-to-face disclosure to a person, and to a social robot. This unique project will combine social cognitive-perceptual and health psychology thinking with experimental psychology methods and roboticist innovations. All work shall be preceded by conduct of a systematic review of the emerging evidence of emotional interaction with robots.

Expected Results

By analysing the engagement and interaction of carers with different methods of data collection (computer vs human vs robotic interface), and recording disclosure of needs/emotions using different experimental/data recording methods, this ESR package could generate hi-tech and novel solutions and recommendations for technology that promotes caregiver wellbeing. Critical dissemination to stakeholders will be via Knowledge Exchange events with roboticists, the care sector including those in Supported Living sector, and the wider scientific community.


Laban, G., Kappas, A., Morrison, V., & Cross, E. S. (2023). Building Long-Term Human–Robot Relationships: Examining Disclosure, Perception and Well-Being Across Time. International Journal of Social Robotics.

Laban, G., Ben-Zion, Z., & Cross, E. S. (2022). Social Robots for Supporting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 12:752874.

Laban, G., Morisson, V., Kappas, A., & Cross, E. S. (2022). Informal Caregivers Disclose Increasingly More to a Social Robot Over Time. In CHI '22 Extended Abstracts: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts Proceedings, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Henschel, A., Laban, G., & Cross, E. S. (2021). What Makes a Robot Social? A Review of Social Robots from Science Fiction to a Home or Hospital Near You.
Current Robotics Reports. doi:

Laban, G., Morrison, V., & Cross, E. S. (2020). Let’s Talk About It! Subjective and Objective Disclosures to Social Robots. In Companion of the 2020 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction.
Association for Computing Machinery, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 328–330.

Laban, G., George, J., Morrison, V., & Cross, E. S. (2021). Tell me more! Assessing interactions with social robots from speech, Paladyn,
Journal of Behavioral Robotics, 12(1), 136-159.


Host Secondment supervisor Aim Duration
Macquarie University, Australia - To gain insight into the use of EMI 3 months
Tel Aviv University, Israel Dr Yaara Yeshurun To learn about what robotics need from health psychology researchers in order to most effectively integrate user feedback into robotic design and implementation, to investigate how research with carers can and will inform future design for assistive robots 3 months