Robots, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Psychology: A Bibliometric Analysis and a Case Made for Robopsychology
Objectives: Robots have the potential to enable new ways to improve the lives of people with special needs. This bibliometric review explored the nature of research that had referred to robots in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders and psychology, outlining the range of research areas, most prolific researchers, outlets for research dissemination, and trends.
Method: Using the database Scopus, publications were identified that mentioned in the abstract robot as well as one of several common neurodevelopmental disorders. Results were analyzed and visually presented using the software VOSviewer. An additional search identified publications about robots in the context of psychological research more broadly.
Results: Studies about autism spectrum disorder and social communication skills were the most frequent. Much of this work is disseminated as publications related to engineering and neuroscience, which is also consistent with the background of the most prolific and cited researchers of this bibliometric search. A notable trend is the increasing role played by psychology in robotics research.
Conclusions: Research work on robots in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders and psychology has traditionally been developed by researchers with a background primarily in engineering and computer science. As psychology is getting ready to play a more prominent role, there is a chance to apply specific psychological theory and methods. Such application may be facilitated by the establishment of a relevant scientific infrastructure, such as through a specialist journal on robopsychology.