There is a movement calling for the "humanitarian treatment of robots" where robots must not be "sexually molested", must be spoken to with kind words and be treated, generally, like sensitive humans. This is likely because people are incapable of separating human from robot when they look at a robot made up to look human.

This question came up when there was a video of Boston Dynamics engineers shoving a robot and knocking it over went viral.

What is this condition where this inability to separate the two manifests? Perhaps the bonus question is: What is the phobia called where one fears that these groups will gain enough momentum to make it law?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Your question is more of a terminology question than a question about a particular psychosis. A psychosis is a particular kind of mental condition which may or may not fit the situation you are talking about. If and when you find the answer to this question, you could then maybe ask if the situation is down to a psychotic dysfunction or not? $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2020 at 6:37
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome. I am also uncertain if this is a psychology question or more of a political or terminology question. For a related social psychology term, look up anthropomorphism. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Apr 16, 2020 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


The term robot humanization can be used to describe a psychological trait for considering certain robots to be human-like.

Life-like humanization of robots has been the aim of artificial intelligence (AI) research for many years, and we seem to be getting there with a robot called Sophia.

Using artificial intelligence, Sophia can communicate with people and even use facial expressions to convey emotions - and looks eerily human as she does so (ITV, 2017).

A YouTube video of a 2019 interview with Sophia on UK television programme This Morning can be seen at https://youtu.be/5_jp9CwJhcA

The pros and cons of AI being used to humanize robots have been debated for quite a while (Giger et al. 2019). One con is that the more a robot is humanized, the less likely people are to sacrifice it in favour of a fellow human (Nijssen et al. 2019).


Giger, J. C., Piçarra, N., Alves‐Oliveira, P., Oliveira, R., & Arriaga, P. (2019). Humanization of robots: Is it really such a good idea? Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, 1(2), 111-123. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbe2.147

Nijssen, S. R. R., Müller, B. C. N., van Baaren R. B., & Paulus, M. (2019) Saving the Robot or the Human? Robots Who Feel Deserve Moral Care. Social Cognition, 37(1): 41 https://doi.org/10.1521/soco.2019.37.1.41

ITV. (2017) Meet Sophia, the eerily human-like robot... Retrieved from https://www.itv.com/goodmorningbritain/news/sophia-the-robot-freaks-our-piers-morgan-and-susanna-reid

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    $\begingroup$ That is interesting, yet troubling: One con is that the more a robot is humanized, the less likely people are to sacrifice it in favour of a fellow human... $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Apr 16, 2020 at 7:36

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