'And then what happens?' Promoting Children's Verbal Creativity Using a Robot

Maha Elgarf, Natalia Calvo-Barajas, Patricia Alves-Oliveira, Giulia Perugia, Ginevra Castellano, Chirstopher Peters, Ana Paiva

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


While creativity has been previously studied in Child-Robot Interaction (cHRI), the effect of regulatory focus on creativity skills has not been investigated. This paper presents an exploratory study that, for the first time, uses the Regulatory Focus Theory (RFT) to assess children's creativity skills in an educational context with a social robot. We investigated whether two key emotional regulation techniques, promotion (approach) and prevention (avoidance), stimulate creativity during a story-telling activity between a child and a robot. We conducted a between-subjects field study with 69 children between the ages of 7 and 9 years old, divided between two study conditions: (1) promotion, where a social robot primes children for action by eliciting positive emotional states, and (2) prevention, where a social robot primes children for avoidance by evoking a states related to security and safety associated with blockage-oriented behaviors. To assess changes in creativity as a response to the priming interaction, children were asked to tell stories to the robot before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the priming interaction. We measured creativity levels by analyzing the verbal content of the stories. We coded verbal expressions related to creativity variables, including fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality. Our results show that children in the promotion condition generated significantly more ideas, and their ideas were on average more original in the stories they created in the post-test rather than in the pre-test. We also modeled the process of creativity that emerges during storytelling in response to the robot's verbal behavior. This paper enriches the scientific understanding of creativity emergence in child-robot collaborative interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHRI 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781538685549
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event17th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2022 - Sapporo, Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan
Duration: 7 Mar 202210 Mar 2022


Conference17th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2022
Abbreviated titleHRI 2022
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
VI. O PEN ACCESS The materials of this work, including the detailed coding schemes and data sets for statistical analysis, were stored in the Open Science Framework (OSF) and can be accessed using the following link: https://osf.io/7nq3e/?view only=15b0da483966481f9bd25ac17a07d43c ACKNOWLEDGMENT This work was supported by the ANIMATAS project funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Grant Agreement No. 765955. Ana Paiva has been supported by national funds through Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia (FCT) with reference UIDB/50021/2020 and by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. We would also like to thank Young Won Kim for the statistics support.


  • creativity
  • regulatory focus
  • social robots


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