Interactive robots have the potential to revolutionise the study of social behaviour because they provide several methodological advances. In interactions with live animals, the behaviour of robots can be standardised, morphology and behaviour can be decoupled (so that different morphologies and behavioural strategies can be combined), behaviour can be manipulated in complex interaction sequences and models of behaviour can be embodied by the robot and thereby be tested. Furthermore, robots can be used as demonstrators in experiments on social learning. As we discuss here, the opportunities that robots create for new experimental approaches have far-reaching consequences for research in fields such as mate choice, cooperation, social learning, personality studies and collective behaviour.
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