In this paper, we suggest connecting empirical research on recipient design to distinction in “forms of sociomorphing” and their phenomenological counterparts, “types of experienced sociality.” By doing so, we propose, it is possible to arrive (i) at a more differentiated understanding of how people experience the sociality of so-called ‘social’ robots, and (ii) at additional empirical methods for testing which experiences arise. Research on recipient design has revealed that people in human-human interaction and human-robot interaction design their behavior relative to a partner model that is continuously updated. This partly overlaps with the concept of ‘sociomorphing’, the collective term for processes of (partly preconscious) sense-making of a social other at different “levels” of social coordination. We suggest that the level of social coordination used in partner models correlates with different social phenomenologies (“type of experienced sociality”) and associated perceptions of the quality of the interaction qua social interaction. We introduce eight hypotheses to connect the relevant theoretical constructs and illustrate how one might explore perceived interaction quality empirically, triangulating (phenomenological) research on experience and behavior. In conclusion we consider the implications of the new concept of (perceived) interaction quality for applications of social robotics in social institutions.
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