The Madeleine Brand Show for February 6, 2012

Mitt Romney's robot problem

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Despite Mitt Romney's success, he's had challenges getting voters to find him relatable.

While Mitt Romney is perceived as very presidential – the perfect family man with business credentials and a slick demeanor – many voters and pundits have found him difficult to relate to.

He’s been described many times as “robotic,” so writer Brian Fung decided to figure out what was behind that. He applied actual robot theory to Romney to see if it could explain the candidate’s relatability problems, and found Romney sits in the so-called “uncanny valley” on the robot continuum.

In other words, Romney is so near to presidential perfection that we almost relate to him, but his social awkwardness among ordinary people causes a jarring discomfort – like an extremely lifelike robot that disturbs us rather than engendering empathy.


Brian Fung is a member of the Chairman's Innovation Lab at the Atlantic Media Company

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