Mark Schiefelbein, AP
A video screen plays footage of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on a robot from Chinese robot maker Jiangsu Eastern Golden Jade Intelligent Robot Co. at the World Robot Conference in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. The annual conference is a showcase of China's burgeoning robot industry, ranging from companion robots to those deployed on manufacturing assembly lines and entertainment.

SALT LAKE CITY — A new published paper revealed children are suffering from peer pressure from robots.

The study, published in the journal Science Robotics, found that children feel peer pressure from robots, which are beginning to infiltrate multiple areas of social life, including education, health and security.

The study asked 50 male college students to take a vision test. They were shown a chart with three lines of different lengths, each of them labeled A, B and C. However, nearly all the students were actors, who gave the same, incorrect response.

One-third of real test subjects, who went last when choosing, always caved to social pressure. Over 12 different trials, the researchers found 75 percent of participants chose the same line as their fellow students at least once, even though the answer was obviously incorrect, according to The Verge.

The researchers decided to try the same experiment with robots.

The results showed adults didn’t always follow the example of robots.

Children, however, did.

“When the kids were alone in the room, they were quite good at the task, but when the robots took part and gave wrong answers, they just followed the robots,” said Tony Belpaeme, a professor of robotics at the University of Plymouth and co-author of the paper.

The researchers said it’s important to monitor how much children listen to robots.

“This raises opportunities as well as concerns for the use of social robots with young and vulnerable cross-sections of society; although conforming can be beneficial, the potential for misuse and the potential impact of erroneous performance cannot be ignored,” according to the study’s abstract.

Another new study found that humans surrounded by robots might have an increased sense of focus and alertness, according to Science magazine. The study found people who were surrounded by a happy robot showed no signs of quicker test-taking abilities.

2 comments on this story

Meanwhile, those surrounded by cranky robots “finished the test faster than when they were alone,” according to the study.

“That might be because people in the presence of the cranky robot have a raised state of alertness that improves their focus, the researchers say,” according to Science magazine. “Previous studies have shown the same effect with judgmental humans — this is the first study to examine the phenomenon with robots. So the next time a robot makes you a little nervous, don’t fret — it might be a good time to cross some things off your to-do list.”