Alfonsina Scarinzi


Alfonsina Scarinzi is a lecturer of media, language, human cognition and technologically mediated interactions. She teaches courses at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Germany) and holds a PhD in Cognitive Studies with a focus on German language from the University of Göttingen. During her doctoral studies she was awarded both a DAAD STIBET and a DFG conference grant. She was a PostDoc fellow at UTC – Université de Technologie de Compiègne (France) and a visiting research fellow at the University of Exeter (UK), at UCLIC London (UK) and within the EU Consortium SIEMPRE at the University of Genova (Italy). She is the initiator and principal investigator of the multidisciplinary project “Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind”. The inaugural conference of her project was sponsored by Fritz Thyssen Foundation and EUCOG III (network of excellence for the development of artificial intelligence). The first scholarly volume in the field of aesthetics and enactive cognition was issued from this conference. In 2019, she started a series of workshops with the title “Meaningful Relations”. The topic of the first meeting was the iCub robot and the ERC Project “Whisper” by Alessandra Sciutti (iit – istituto italiano di tecnologia di Genova – Italy). Robot consciousness, human trust in robots, and the sensorimotor coupling between a human agent and a social robot in the constitution of an aesthetic experience is the topic of her main research and the topic of her next monograph.

Research Project

Robots – so called social robots – are becoming more and more relevant in education and social interactions in general. Scenarios in which robots play the role of a teacher can be considered to be a realistic future development of the human interaction with the machine. In my research, I consider a scenario in which a social robot teaches a human partner that has no experience in the interaction with a robot new sensorimotor skills. The main focus of my work is on how the human agent perceives the robot in such a relevant role and the role movements have in the interaction between human learner and robot teacher. How pleasurable is such an interaction for the human learner? Does the human agent tend to manifest a positive pleasurable feeling of the interaction itself when the movements of the social robot in the teaching process become familiar or when the human learner realizes that the learning of new sensorimotor skills is successful? The aim is to suggest criteria for showing how interaction changes when the human learner accepts and enjoys the robot teacher. Moreover, together with the group of the BONHEURS Lab, with the support of the platform Techsolab and in collaboration with Pr. Alain Jaillet and with Pr. Vassilis Komis, invited professor at the UNESCO chair at Cergy-Pontoise, I will focus on the cognitive-emotional role of sensorimotor skills in environments for collaborative learning activities.