Use of a non-human robot audience to induce stress reactivity in human participants

Julie Turner-Cobb, Mashal Asif, James Turner, Christopher Bevan, Danae Stanton Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)
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This study examined whether a non-human robot audience can elicit a stress response in human participants. A 90-min experimental laboratory session based on the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) using a pre-recorded robot audience, was presented as a live on-screen simulation. Nineteen participants (female = 16) aged 21–57 years (M = 29.74) underwent a 10-min mock interview and mathematics task in front of the robot audience. Salivary cortisol was assessed at 10-min before and immediately prior to the start of the stress test, and +10-, +30- and +40-min after the start of the test. Heart rate was assessed 20 min before, at 5 min into and 40-min after the test. Perceived stress and trait coping responses were provided at entry and participants were interviewed post task about their subjective experience. Significant increases in salivary cortisol and heart rate were observed over time with no significant interactions by participant subjective report. Coping responses including active coping and planning showed significant relationships with cortisol and heart rate reactivity and recovery. Until now, a non-human robot audience has not been used in a social stress testing paradigm. This methodology offers an innovative application with potential for further in-depth evaluation of stress reactivity and adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date18 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Coping
  • Heart rate
  • Robot audience
  • Salivary cortisol
  • Social evaluative threat
  • Stress testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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