Updated: Tuesday, 21st November 2017 @ 8:07am

Prosthetic or robotic? Unrealistic fake limbs deemed 'eerie' by public in Manchester uni study

Prosthetic or robotic? Unrealistic fake limbs deemed 'eerie' by public in Manchester uni study

By Tim Hyde

Less realistic-looking prosthetic limbs are deemed more 'eerie' by the general public, according  to a Manchester University study.

The study shows that hands which appeared more genuine and realistic are considered less ‘eerie’ by the public which contradicts prior research carried out on whole bodies.

Researchers found hands which looked more human were considered as less unnerving than hands which appeared obviously prosthetic, while mechanical hands unsettled people even less.

Dr Poliakoff said: “Our findings show hands are viewed in a similar way to previous experiments which have looked at faces and bodies.

“Finding out more about this phenomenon, known as the uncanny valley, may help with the design of prosthetic limbs.”

The study consisted of 43 right-handed participants, 36 female and seven male, who viewed a series of human, robotic and prosthetic hands and graded them in terms of eeriness or human-likeness.

Researchers hope their study, published in the Journal Perception, can help improve designs for prosthetic limbs.

“We hope this and further research will allow us to learn more about social perception and what is special about perceiving another human being,” said Dr Emma Gowen, based in the University's Faculty of Life Science who also worked on the research.

“Determining what factors contribute to eeriness can help us to understand how we interpret and respond to other people.”

Dr Poliakoff, based in the University's School of Psychological Science who led the research, now plans to carry out further experiments.

Image courtesy of IWishMyNameWasMarsha via Flickr, with thanks.

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