What are the cognitive and behavioral preconditions to engage in cooperation? And to which extent can such preconditions be implemented in robotic systems? What are the implications of human-robot interaction with respect to joint commitments? A two-dimensional approach to cooperation helps answering these questions. It allows (1) determining where precisely a specific phenomenon that is called ‘cooperation’ lies on the axis of a ‘behavioral dimension’ and the axis of a ‘cognitive dimension’ and (2) showing what this implies for the robustness of the cooperation.
This approach not only enables scientists from different disciplines and traditions to locate themselves in the debate when investigating what they call ‘cooperation,’ it also provides a framework to spell out the cognitive preconditions that being engaged in cooperation on either dimension involves. Robots reveal to be capable of being engaged in human-robot cooperation on either dimension. However, the implications of having a shared intention with respect to joint commitments being involved are only partly implemented in the robotic systems so far (Fiebich, Ngyuen and Schwarzkopf 2015).
These two dimensions are also suitable to elucidate the pecularities of human-human cooperation. Traditional accounts of joint action argue for cooperation as involving a shared intention. Developmental research has shown that cooperation involving a shared intention requires rather sophisticated social cognitive skills such as having a robust theory of mind – that is acquired not until age 4 to 5 in human ontogeny. However, also younger children are able to cooperate in various ways. Moreover, the coordinated behaviours of the agents can be more or less complex. In human-human cooperation a third dimension needs to be added to capture cooperative phenomena adequately, i.e. an affective dimension which is orthogonal to the cognitive and behavioral dimension. Both phenomenological considerations and findings from social psychology illustrate that (shared) affective states and agent-specificities may play a central role in cooperation (Fiebich 2017).