Kiilavuori and teammates broadened previous research on making eye contact from situations involving humans only to those including both humans and robots. They report that “Eye contact with the robot evoked similar responses as eye contact with the human. . . . Previous research has shown that eye contact, in human-human interaction, elicits increased affective [emotional] and attention related psychophysiological responses. In the present study, we investigated whether eye contact with a humanoid robot would elicit these responses. Participants were facing a humanoid robot (NAO) or a human partner, both physically present and looking at or away from the participant. The results showed that both in human-robot and human-human condition, eye contact versus averted gaze elicited greater skin conductance responses indexing autonomic arousal, greater facial zygomatic muscle responses (and smaller corrugator responses) associated with positive affect [mood], and greater heart deceleration responses indexing attention allocation. . . . eye contact elicits automatic affective [emotional] and attentional reactions both when shared with a humanoid robot and with another human.” So making eye contact with a robot has the same effects on people as making eye contact with another human.
Helena Kiilavuori, Veikko Sariol, Mikko Peltola, and Jari Hietanen. “Making Eye Contact with a Robot: Psychophysiological Responses to Eye Contact with a Human and with a Humanoid Robot.” Biological Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107989