Topic: Psychophysiological Aspects of Human-Human and Human-Android Social Bonding through Facial Mimicry

Speaker: Dr. Chun-Ting Hsu (許鈞庭) (Psychological Process Research Team, Guardian Robot Project, RIKEN)

Time: 2024/05/03 (Fri) 15:00-17:00

Location: 801 Meeting room, Research and Teaching Building, SH Campus, Taipei Medical University


Social bonding is a psychological mechanism essential to human well-being. Real-life and second-person neuroscience aims to improve ecological validity using bidirectional interaction designs and symmetric measurements to reveal dyadic physiological or neural couplings. In study one, a live image relay system was employed to deliver models’ real-time performance of positive (smiling) and negative (frowning) dynamic facial expressions or their prerecorded videos to participants. Previous analysis using facial electromyograms (fEMG) of the zygomaticus major (ZM) and corrugator supercilii (CS) muscles revealed enhanced spontaneous facial mimicry, enhanced right mirror neuron system activity, and functional connectivity within when observing live facial expressions. Study two investigated whether the empathic act of facial mimicry can enhance social bonding using a psychological experiment measuring subjective evaluations and physiological responses. We incorporated real-life interactions into the experimental design and asked participants to create natural facial expressions based on scenarios. A confederate serving as a judge was set up in conditions where the model did or did not mimic the facial expressions. Subjective evaluations revealed that participants felt more empathic, likable, and interpersonally closer with the mimicking confederate than the non-mimicking confederate. Endocrinologic results showed higher oxytocin levels in saliva after interaction with the mimicking confederate compared to the non-mimicking confederate. In study three, we applied this paradigm to human-android interaction, and preliminary results showed that facial mimicry by an android could enhance the human likeliness of the android and evoke higher oxytocin levels in saliva after the interaction. These results indicate that facial mimicry enhances social bonding in human-human and human android interaction.