While it doesn't exactly come as much of a surprise, a team of researchers from ATR Laboratories
in Kyoto, Japan have found that people are more accepting of robots if they engage in a little small talk during conversations, as opposed to leaving unnerving silences that make folks unclear of their intentions. The researchers also found that of the 38 people surveyed, most were willing to accept delays in responses of one or two seconds, but that they much preferred if the robot threw in a "well" or "er" to fill the gap if it was taking any longer for them to muster up an answer. Of course, as we all know, just because a robot shoots the breeze with you doesn't mean it's your friend
, so you may want to be careful what you wish for.