The uncanny valley phenomenon has been studied for many years. In a recent study, Wang, Cheong, Dilks, and Rochat report that “Human replicas highly resembling people tend to elicit eerie sensations—a phenomenon known as the uncanny valley. . . . [the Wang team’s] findings link perceived uncanniness in androids [robots with human type features] to the temporal dynamics of face animacy [how “alive” it seems to be] perception.” The uncanny valley effect arises when a machine appears nearly lifelike but not exactly the same as a true human. The researchers found that this effect occurs not because people attribute a mind to the android but because humans come to view the “robot” as not having a mind after initial thoughts that it does.
Shensheng Wang, Yuk Cheong, Daniel Dilks, and Philippe Rochat. “The Uncanny Valley Phenomenon and the Temporal Dynamics of Face Animacy Perception.” Perception, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006620952611