It's a cute little experiment, but it's also a cute little robot.
Not exactly rocket science to figure out that people respond differently to things they find endearing.
How eager are people to help an unattractive robot? Not pitiful
unattractive, just ugly.
I think comparing the two experiments might be interesting.
Having spent my share of time in NYC, I've found that the majority of the 'natives' I've met are remarkably sympathetic and helpful towards people & pets in need of assistance. Being nice to a cute little cardboard bot strikes me as a natural extension of that behavior.
Yes, New Yorkers are great. Over the holidays, I dropped my credit card somewhere in the city. When I called the bank 2 hours later, someone had already called my bank and reported it 'lost' for me. Had they just thrown it out, I would have felt lucky. But calling it in lost for me, too? Very nice
I make no apologies for generalizing; I'm not sure about other areas but, overall, New Yorkers are definitely more likely to help a stranger than Californians. It would be nice to see an East coast/West coast experiment, or even for other countries, to see who really is the most/least helpful to the average stranger in need. Who knows, maybe I'm wrong about California.