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Intentional stance for social attunement

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "InStance" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: VIA MOREGO 30
city: GENOVA
postcode: 16163

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Italy [IT]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙499˙937 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙937 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2016-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2017
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2017-05-01   to  2022-04-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

In daily social interactions, we constantly attribute mental states, such as beliefs or intentions, to other humans – to understand and predict their behaviour. Today we also routinely interact with artificial agents: from Apple’s Siri to GPS navigation systems. In the near future, we will casually interact with robots. However, since we consider artificial agents to have no mental states, we tend to not attune socially with them in the sense of activating our mechanisms of social cognition. This is because it seems pointless to socially attune to something that does not carry social meaning (mental content) under the surface of an observed behaviour. INSTANCE will break new ground in social cognition research by identifying factors that influence attribution of mental states to others and social attunement with humans or artificial agents. The objectives of INSTANCE are to (1) determine parameters of others’ behaviour that make us attribute mental states to them, (2) explore parameters relevant for social attunement, (3) elucidate further factors – culture and experience – that influence attribution of mental states to agents and, thereby social attunement. INSTANCE’s objectives are highly relevant not only for fundamental research in social cognition, but also for the applied field of social robotics, where robots are expected to become humans’ social companions. Indeed, if we do not attune socially to artificial agents viewed as mindless machines, then robots may end up not working well enough in contexts where interaction is paramount. INSTANCE’s unique approach combining cognitive neuroscience methods with real-time human-robot interaction will address the challenge of social attunement between humans and artificial agents. Subtle features of robot behaviour (e.g., timing or pattern of eye movements) will be manipulated. The impact of such features on social attunement (e.g., joint attention) will be examined with behavioural, neural and physiological measures.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Serena Marchesi, Davide Ghiglino, Francesca Ciardo, Jairo Perez-Osorio, Ebru Baykara, Agnieszka Wykowska
Do We Adopt the Intentional Stance Toward Humanoid Robots?
published pages: , ISSN: 1664-1078, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00450
Frontiers in Psychology 10 2020-01-28
2020 Francesca Ciardo, Frederike Beyer, Davide De Tommaso, Agnieszka Wykowska
Attribution of intentional agency towards robots reduces one’s own sense of agency
published pages: 104109, ISSN: 0010-0277, DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104109
Cognition 194 2020-01-28
2019 Elef Schellen, Agnieszka Wykowska
Intentional Mindset Toward Robots—Open Questions and Methodological Challenges
published pages: , ISSN: 2296-9144, DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2018.00139
Frontiers in Robotics and AI 5 2020-01-28
2019 Jairo Perez-Osorio, Agnieszka Wykowska
Adopting the intentional stance toward natural and artificial agents
published pages: 1-27, ISSN: 0951-5089, DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2019.1688778
Philosophical Psychology 2020-01-28
2019 Pauline Chevalier, Kyveli Kompatsiari, Francesca Ciardo, Agnieszka Wykowska
Examining joint attention with the use of humanoid robots-A new approach to study fundamental mechanisms of social cognition
published pages: , ISSN: 1069-9384, DOI: 10.3758/s13423-019-01689-4
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2020-01-28
2019 Ondřej Havlíček, Hermann J. Müller, Agnieszka Wykowska
Distract yourself: prediction of salient distractors by own actions and external cues
published pages: 159-174, ISSN: 0340-0727, DOI: 10.1007/s00426-018-1129-x
Psychological Research 83/1 2020-01-28
2019 Cesco Willemse, Agnieszka Wykowska
In natural interaction with embodied robots, we prefer it when they follow our gaze: a gaze-contingent mobile eyetracking study
published pages: 20180036, ISSN: 0962-8436, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0036
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 374/1771 2020-01-28
2019 Kyveli Kompatsiari, Francesca Ciardo, Vadim Tikhanoff, Giorgio Metta, Agnieszka Wykowska
It’s in the Eyes: The Engaging Role of Eye Contact in HRI
published pages: , ISSN: 1875-4791, DOI: 10.1007/s12369-019-00565-4
International Journal of Social Robotics 2020-01-28
2018 Kyveli Kompatsiari, Francesca Ciardo, Vadim Tikhanoff, Giorgio Metta, Agnieszka Wykowska
On the role of eye contact in gaze cueing
published pages: , ISSN: 2045-2322, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-36136-2
Scientific Reports 8/1 2020-01-28
2019 Jairo Perez-Osorio, Agnieszka Wykowska
Adopting the Intentional Stance Towards Humanoid Robots
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
Wording Robotics. Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics 2020-01-28
2018 Cesco Willemse, Serena Marchesi, Agnieszka Wykowska
Robot Faces that Follow Gaze Facilitate Attentional Engagement and Increase Their Likeability
published pages: , ISSN: 1664-1078, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00070
Frontiers in Psychology 9 2019-05-25
2018 Elef Schellen, Jairo Perez-Osorio, Agnieszka Wykowska
Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction: Putting the ‘H’ back in ‘HRI’
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
ERCIM News 2019-05-25
2017 Eva Wiese, Giorgio Metta, Agnieszka Wykowska
Robots As Intentional Agents: Using Neuroscientific Methods to Make Robots Appear More Social
published pages: , ISSN: 1664-1078, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01663
Frontiers in Psychology 8 2019-05-25
2018 Francesca Ciardo, Agnieszka Wykowska
Response Coordination Emerges in Cooperative but Not Competitive Joint Task
published pages: , ISSN: 1664-1078, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01919
Frontiers in Psychology 9 2019-05-25
2018 Kyveli Kompatsiari, Jairo Perez-Osorio, Davide de Tommaso, Giorgio Metta, Agnieszka Wykowska
Neuroscientifically-grounded research for improved human-robot interaction
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2019-05-25

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