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Valley Theory Disturbing: aversion to what seems human

Valley Theory Disturbing: aversion to what seems human

June 12, 2024

If when observing a robot with almost human appearance you experience a series of unpleasant sensations, it is possible that you find yourself under a phenomenon explained by The Valley Theory Disturbing .

This theory tries to give an explanation to the reactions that a person lives in the presence of a figure or image that is excessively human, but that on the other hand is not enough .

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What is the Disturbing Valley Theory?

The Disturbing Valley Theory, as well as the term Distressing Valley itself, are concepts related to the world of robotics and 3D animation that refer to a curve of the reaction of people in the presence of an anthropomorphic figure. That is, in the presence of a figure or object not alive, but with a great appearance of person. These anthropomorphic figures can refer to android robots or 3D animations of great realism.


The term "Disturbing Valley" It was created by professor and robotics specialist Masahiro Mori in the year 1970, and his name in Japanese was Bukimi no Tani Gensho. Under the translation known as Valle Inquietante, there is a metaphor that attempts to clarify the reactions that people experience in the presence of a robot with a human form.

According to this theory, the reaction of a person to an anthropomorphic robot is increasingly positive and empathetic as the appearance of the figure becomes more and more human. However, there is a turning point in which this reaction changes completely; becoming an aversion response due to the excess of similarity .


The name "valley" refers to the inclination of the curve present in the graph elaborated by Mori, which calculates how favorable the human response is in the presence of an anthropomorphic figure: it ascends as its human appearance also grows, until it reaches a point where the first one falls down when the second one is very high.

On the other hand, the term "disturbing" refers to the feeling of surprise or aversion that causes the perception of something that seems human but in reality it is not.

What causes this aversion?

Although it has not yet been possible to reach a completely valid conclusion about the causes of this sensation, there are several theories that try to explain the reason of this phenomenon.

1. Hypothesis of rejection of the disease

A hypothesis developed by the psychologist Thalia Wheatley indicates that, after centuries of evolution, human beings have developed the ability to detect any type of distortion in other humans and identify it or associate it with any type of physical or mental illness .


Therefore, the feeling of aversion to something that seems human, but that shows clear signs that it is not, would be no more than a natural defense of our brain to the idea of ​​disease and even death.

This means that all those distortions or rarities that we perceive before an anthropomorphic figure are directly associated, by our brain, with the idea or image of people who are considerably ill or even dead, thus originating an aversion or disgust response.

2. The paradox sorites

Also known as the heap paradox. Although this explanation is not directly related to the Disturbing Valley Theory, many experts and theorists have used it to try to find the cause of it.

This paradox manifests itself when a person tries to use common sense on a vague, imprecise or unclear concept. In the case of the disturbing Valley, figures with a human aspect they end up undermining our sense of identity when trying to find a logical explanation to what it is that we are observing. This generates a negative feeling and rejection of what we do not understand.

3. Hypothesis of the violation of human norms

According to this hypothesis, if a figure or robot has an appearance that could be identified with the human one, it generates a certain degree of empathy. However, when this figure only partially resembles a human, possessing remarkable non-human characteristics (such as a lack of clear expression of feelings or unnatural body movements) generating a feeling of uncertainty and a reaction of repulsion .

4. Hypothesis of the religious definition of person

In some societies strongly influenced by religious standards and concepts about the human being , the existence of artificial and anthropomorphic objects or figures poses a threat to the idea of ​​being human as it was conceived by different religions.

5. Hypothesis of "specialism"

The American psychiatrist Irvin Yalom explains that human beings, faced with the fear of death, create a series of psychological defenses that stop the anxiety caused by the certainty that one day we will die. One of these defenses is "specialism". This is an irrational and unconscious belief by which we assume that death is something inherent in life but that it is something that only applies to others, not to ourselves.

Therefore, the confrontation with an object or robot with a high human face can become so intense that it causes a discrepancy between the "specialism" and the existential defenses, generating a sensation of vital anguish.

Criticisms of Mori's model

As in most theories not scientifically proven, the Disturbing Valley Theory has not escaped criticism. A part of the experts in the world of robotics reject the idea of ​​Mori under the justification that there is no basis to justify the reaction curve created by it.

In addition, they rely on the fact that for the moment it is only possible to create robots partially similar to humans , so the theory would not have sufficient grounds. Instead, they claim that in any case could generate a kind of cognitive dissonance by which our brain generates expectations about what a human should be, expectations that with this type of humanoid figures would not be covered.


Hot Robot At SXSW Says She Wants To Destroy Humans | The Pulse (June 2024).


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