The Uncanny Valley: The Original Essay by Masahiro Mori (2023)


What is the uncanny valley Masahiro Mori? ›

In particular, he hypothesized that a person's response to a humanlike robot would abruptly shift from empathy to revulsion as it approached, but failed to attain, a lifelike appearance. This descent into eeriness is known as the uncanny valley.

What does the uncanny valley imply? ›

The uncanny valley metaphor suggests that a human appearance or behavior can make an artificial figure seem more familiar for viewers — but only up to a point. The sense of viewer familiarity drops sharply into the uncanny valley once the artificial figure tries but fails to mimic a realistic human.

Why is the uncanny valley scary? ›

The kind of robots that fall into the Uncanny Valley will look like humans, but with something clearly wrong with them. Whether this is because their skin looks lifeless, their features are morphed or another slightly off factor, it could trigger an evolutionary feeling of aversion or disgust.

Is the uncanny valley real? ›

A 2013 study examined the relationship between human-likeness and eeriness and found evidence supporting the existence of the uncanny valley.

Why did humans evolve the uncanny valley? ›

Why did humans evolve the Uncanny Valley response? Humans did not evolve the uncanny valley response, they inherited it from earlier hominids, who inherited in from earlier primates, who inherited it from earlier mammals, who inherited it from earlier amniotes… and so forth.

Why does the uncanny valley make us uncomfortable? ›

"The uncanny valley is this pattern where, as something becomes more human, we have more positive feelings about it up to a point. When it is kind of human but not quite human, that makes us really uncomfortable. It's that strange familiarity, or familiar strangeness.

What is Freud's theory of the uncanny? ›

Freud's general thesis: The uncanny is anything we experience in adulthood that reminds us of earlier psychic stages, of aspects of our unconscious life, or of the primitive experience of the human species.

Is uncanny valley a survival instinct? ›

For example, Mori (1970/2012) proposed that the uncanny valley effect is a survival instinct, an aversive response to proximal threats like dead or diseased bodies and dangerous species of animals.

How do you stop uncanny valley? ›

In the following, we provide an overview of some design guidelines developed to prevent the uncanny valley.
  1. Steer clear of atypicalities at high levels of realism. ...
  2. Avoid "dead eyes." A virtual character's eyes are especially important. ...
  3. Use stylization and childish features for stylization.

Is Shrek uncanny valley? ›

He continues: "One of the most well known modern examples of this was actually an early test screening of Shrek in 2000, where Fiona was rendered as very hyper-realistic, so realistic that it surpassed the threshold of comfort and cartoon and moved into the 'uncanny valley'.

How old is uncanny valley? ›

Today the Uncanny Valley is a well-known response to extremely lifelike robots and AI entities. The phenomenon can be traced back more than 2,000 years, to classical antiquity. The most ancient examples of an Uncanny Valley response to artificial life occur in Homer's Odyssey (ca. 700 BC).

Is Dracula uncanny? ›

The Uncanny was a theory created by Sigmund Freud, and was shaped in his psychoanalytical viewpoint and beliefs. The uncanny Dracula is the idea of the vampire. Although he appears to be human, and even carries out human routines, but isn't really human at all.

Is Alita Battle Angel uncanny valley? ›

Alita's character is brought to life using computer-generated imagery, and the most striking features about her aren't her cybernetic limbs, but the enlarged eyes. Comments have ranged from humorous to outright critical, and several bring up a very important principle of animation: the uncanny valley.

Did Freud invent the uncanny? ›

The concept of the Uncanny was later elaborated on and developed by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay "The Uncanny", which also draws on the work of Hoffmann (whom Freud refers to as the "unrivalled master of the uncanny in literature").

Why do robots look uncanny? ›

A robot may look uncanny when human and nonhuman elements are mixed. For example, both a robot with a synthetic voice or a human being with a human voice have been found to be less eerie than a robot with a human voice or a human being with a synthetic voice.

Does the uncanny valley affect everyone? ›

“This is the first study to show individual differences in the strength of the Uncanny Valley effect, meaning that some individuals react overly and others less sensitively to human-like artificial agents,” says Professor Rosenthal-von der Pütten. “This means there is no one robot design that fits—or scares—all users.

Are zombies uncanny valley? ›

The answer seems to be the little-known psychological phenomenon, called 'The Uncanny valley. ' The “dead” eyes and near-human characteristics of zombies provoke an instinctive disquiet in us. This is down to our inability to process these “strange” faces using normal psychological mechanisms.

Who is the CEO in uncanny valley? ›

Her friendship with a billionaire CEO coyly identified as “Patrick” (that would be 31 year-old Patrick Collison, CEO of payments company Stripe) offers an opportunity for her to lay her political cards on the table, but she largely refrains.

What are examples of uncanny? ›

Examples of the Uncanny

Examples of situations that can provoke an uncanny feeling include inanimate objects coming alive, thoughts appearing to have an effect in the real world, seeing your double (the doppelgänger effect), representations of death such as ghosts or spirits, and involuntary repetitions.

What makes the image of the double uncanny? ›

The “double” comes into play when a person encounters the “narcissism of the child” later on in their adult life causing them to return to that primitive state, therefore causing “uncanny”. This may also be related to Freud's formation/idea of the super-ego.

What are Freud's 3 theories? ›

Freudian theory postulates that adult personality is made up of three aspects: (1) the id, operating on the pleasure principle generally within the unconscious; (2) the ego, operating on the reality principle within the conscious realm; and (3) the superego, operating on the morality principle at all levels of ...

Why do humans need the uncanny valley? ›

This phenomenon is known as the uncanny valley because human beings and somewhat human objects like toy robots give us a feeling of affinity that we don't get from most other objects. Yet when we try to create objects that look human, we lose this feeling of affinity, and they can appear eerie."

How long does it take to beat uncanny valley? ›

Main Story511h 34m
Main + Extras122h 45m
Completionist204h 52m
All PlayStyles832h 32m

Are monkeys in the uncanny valley? ›

2B), monkeys exhibited one pattern consistently: They preferred to look at unrealistic synthetic faces and real faces more than to realistic synthetic faces. The visual behavior of monkeys falls into the uncanny valley just the same as human visual behavior (2, 3).

What is the fear of something that looks human but isn t? ›

Automatonophobia may be influenced by our own innate expectations of human behavior. Whether they are programmed to move and talk or they simply stand silently, automatons look but do not behave like humans. In general, it's common for people to feel uncomfortable in the presence of human replicas.

How do you use uncanny valley in a sentence? ›

Many people find mannequins disturbing (due in part perhaps to the uncanny valley effect), especially when not fully assembled. Some praised it for looking realistic and others criticized it for falling into the uncanny valley and looking creepy.

Is Polar Express uncanny valley? ›

Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express is an often-cited example of the uncanny valley, since his computer-generated characters are lifelike, but possess inanimate qualities that add a peculiarity to the screen (3,4).

Was Fiona originally a human? ›

In Shrek, Fiona changes from a human during the day to an ogre at night and the events of the first movie make the change permanent. However during the second movie we learn that her father the king was actually the frog prince, and was turned human by the fairy godmother so he could marry a human.

What does uncanny valley feel like? ›

The uncanny valley phenomenon can be described as an eerie or unsettling feeling that some people experience in response to not-quite-human figures like humanoid robots and lifelike computer-generated characters.

Is uncanny valley a horror game? ›

Uncanny Valley is a survival horror game that includes a mix of exploration, puzzle solving and a bit of action with a lot of optional story content. We're trying to preserve the old survival horror kind of gameplay instead of following the modern trend of creating a third person shooter with horror elements.

Who created the uncanny? ›

The term was first used by German psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch in his essay On the Psychology of the Uncanny, 1906. Jentsch describes the uncanny – in German 'unheimlich' (unhomely) – as something new and unknown that can often be seen as negative at first.

Can Dracula feel love? ›

Dracula's Inability to Love

Evil and love, being dichotomous by nature, cannot simultaneously exist.

Why is the Uncanny used in Gothic? ›

How does the Gothic genre link to the Uncanny? Gothic novels often deal with ghosts and the supernatural They often deal with horror. They are full of such uncanny effects – simultaneously frightening, unfamiliar and yet also strangely familiar.

Is Dracula a hero or villain? ›

Dracula is the most well-known vampire in the world. Usually the villain in most stories, but in some others, Dracula is a heroic character.

What is at the bottom of the uncanny valley? ›

Finally, Mori suggested a possible reason for the uncanny valley effect: He placed corpses and zombies at the bottom of the valley on the graph, and suggested that we experience unease at not-quite-accurate human simulations because they remind us of corpses and we naturally fear death.

Is Alita a robot or cyborg? ›

Last Order reveals that Alita has been a cyborg since she was three years old, while Mars Chronicle reveals that she has been a cyborg her entire life since "birth".

Where did the word uncanny come from? ›

Uncanny has its origins in a word used in northern and Scottish English: 'canny' meaning smart or careful, preceded by the prefix 'un' which means 'not'. Uncanny entered mainstream usage in the late 19th century, to refer to a situation that appears odd.

Did Einstein ever meet Freud? ›

The two men whose work most radically influenced 20th century thought met only once, in 1927, when Albert Einstein, then 47, paid a call on 70-year-old Sigmund Freud.

What did Freud say about obsession? ›

Freud supposes that obsessions tend to be inherited, citing “similar heredity is often enough found in obsessional cases, as in hysteria.” This is all Freud states about the origin of substitutions, that they are often found also in the parents or primary care givers.

Why do sexbots exist? ›

"Sexbots" are designed for those who yearn for an opportunity to simulate a sex act in the company of an exceedingly realistic-looking mannequin. To that end, sexbots often come packed with many lifelike features, which distinguish them from their much more primitive "sex doll" forebears.

Can a robot ever have feelings? ›

Currently, it is not possible for Artificial Intelligence to replicate human emotions. However, studies show that it would be possible for AI to mimic certain forms of expression.

Can a robot pass as a human? ›

The researchers found that bots are more efficient than humans at certain human-machine interactions, but only if they are allowed to hide their non-human nature. Recent technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence have made it possible for machines, or bots, to pass as humans.

When did Masahiro Mori write uncanny valley? ›

Mori was a roboticist who wrote "The Uncanny Valley." This short essay explains a phenomenon in which there is a certain point where a robot who looks human begins to give off a sense of eeriness.

What is so Mun power in uncanny counter? ›

Choo Mae-ok is the motherly figure with incredible healing abilities, and finally So Mun, who is the newest addition to the evil spirit hunting group, possesses superhuman speed and psychometry. Together they search for and fight against evil spirits that escaped from the afterlife to prey on humans.

Why is it called uncanny valley? ›

The name captures the idea that an almost human-looking robot seems overly "strange" to some human beings, produces a feeling of uncanniness, and thus fails to evoke the empathic response required for productive human–robot interaction.

Do other animals have uncanny valley? ›

Very humanlike artificial agents can induce feelings of uneasiness in human perceivers. Stimuli that generate this response are said to occupy “the uncanny valley”. Given inconsistent findings in the literature, whether or not nonhuman animals experience the uncanny valley is unclear.

Who killed Mun's parents in uncanny counter? ›

Mun feels betrayed when he discovers the Counters already knew the truth behind his parents' death. Ha-na helps Mun look into his traumatic past. While travelling with Ha-na into his tragic past, Mun comes face-to-face with the powerful Level 3 demon that murdered his parents.

Who killed his parents in uncanny counter? ›

Mun sees the ugly truth that his parents' souls were swallowed by Cheong-Shin, the same spirit that Ha-Na she fought in the first episode – and the one who killed Cheol-Jung.

Did So Mun lose his powers? ›

He's driven to save his parents though but given that would involve killing Cheong-Sin, Wigen argues that he's no better than an evil spirit. And just like that, Mun's powers are taken away. This also means Mun's legs no longer work… and Ha-Na is tasked with taking away his memories.

Why is the uncanny important in literature? ›

Basically, the Uncanny is what unconsciously reminds us of our own Id, our forbidden and thus repressed impulses – especially when placed in a context of uncertainty that can remind one of infantile beliefs in the omnipotence of thought.

What is the craziest phobia ever? ›

Top 10 Most Bizarre Phobias
  • Optophobia: Fear of opening one's eyes. ...
  • Chorophobia: Fear of dancing. ...
  • Geliophobia: Fear of laughter. ...
  • Heliphobia: Fear of sunlight. ...
  • Deipnophobia: Fear of dinner conversations. ...
  • Neophobia: Fear of new things. ...
  • Syngenesophobia: Fear of relatives. ...
  • Ablutophobia: Fear of washing and bathing.

What is the longest phobia word? ›

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is one of the longest words in the dictionary — and, in an ironic twist, is the name for a fear of long words. Sesquipedalophobia is another term for the phobia.

What are the most scariest phobias? ›

Phobias: The ten most common fears people hold
  • Acrophobia: fear of heights. ...
  • Pteromerhanophobia: fear of flying. ...
  • Claustrophobia: fear of enclosed spaces. ...
  • Entomophobia: fear of insects. ...
  • Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes. ...
  • Cynophobia: fear of dogs. ...
  • Astraphobia: fear of storms. ...
  • Trypanophobia: fear of needles.
1 May 2015


1. The Uncanny Valley: Why some Humanoid Robots seem a little creepy
(DW Shift)
2. Uncanny Valley and Photorealism: The Lion King (2019)
(Trope Anatomy)
3. Uncanny Valley Revisited: Ken Goldberg
(IEEE Spectrum)
4. The Uncanny Valley
(Leigh M. Johnson)
5. Lawrence Weschler: Facing Up to the Uncanny Valley
(Chicago Humanities Festival)
6. The Uncanny Valley: Science of Creepy Robots | Sci Guys Podcast #121
(Sci Guys)
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