Relational Agents


Relational agents are artificial intelligence (AI) systems that are designed to interact with users in a way that is personal, social, and empathetic. They are often used in applications that require a high level of social interaction, such as customer service, education, and health care.

Relational agents are different from other types of AI systems in that they are designed to focus on building and maintaining relationships with users. They do this by using a range of different techniques, including natural language processing, nonverbal communication, and social reasoning.

For example, a relational agent might use natural language processing to understand and respond to user input in a way that is natural and intuitive. It might use nonverbal communication, such as gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice, to express emotions and intentions. And it might use social reasoning to infer the user’s goals, beliefs, and preferences, and to adapt its behavior accordingly.

The goal of relational agents is to create a more natural and engaging interaction between users and AI systems. By building and maintaining relationships with users, relational agents can help to improve the user experience, and to make AI systems more effective and useful.

Overall, relational agents are AI systems that are designed to interact with users in a personal, social, and empathetic way. They use a range of different techniques to build and maintain relationships with users, and are often used in applications that require a high level of social interaction.



See also:

Agents Meta Guide

Relational agents: a model and implementation of building user trust T Bickmore, J Cassell – Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on …, 2001 – Abstract Building trust with users is crucial in a wide range of applications, such as financial  transactions, and some minimal degree of trust is required in all applications to even initiate  and maintain an interaction with a user. Humans use a variety of relational conversational … Cited by 216 Related articles BL Direct All 25 versions

[PDF] from [PDF] Relational agents: Effecting change through human-computer relationships TW Bickmore – 2003 – Abstract What kinds of social relationships can people have with computers? Are there  activities that computers can engage in that actively draw people into relationships with  them? What are the potential benefits to the people who participate in these human- … Cited by 182 Related articles View as HTML Library Search All 26 versions

[PDF] from ‘It’s just like you talk to a friend’relational agents for older adults TW Bickmore, L Caruso, K Clough-Gorr… – Interacting with …, 2005 – Elsevier Relational agents—computational artifacts designed to build and maintain long-term social– emotional relationships with users—may provide an effective interface modality for older  adults. This is especially true when the agents use simulated face-to-face conversation as … Cited by 65 Related articles All 13 versions

[PDF] from Acceptance and usability of a relational agent interface by urban older adults TW Bickmore, L Caruso, K Clough-Gorr – CHI’05 extended abstracts on …, 2005 – Abstract This study examines the acceptance and usability of an animated conversational  agent designed to establish long-term relationships with older, mostly minority adult users  living in urban neighborhoods. The agent plays the role of an exercise advisor who … Cited by 43 Related articles All 12 versions

Practical approaches to comforting users with relational agents T Bickmore, D Schulman – CHI’07 extended abstracts on Human factors …, 2007 – Abstract Interactions in which computer agents comfort users through expressed empathy  have been shown to be important in alleviating user frustration and increasing user liking of  the agent, and may have important healthcare applications. Given the current state of … Cited by 21 Related articles All 4 versions

[PDF] from [PDF] Subtle expressivity by relational agents T Bickmore, R Picard – Proceedings of the CHI 2003 Workshop on …, 2003 – ABSTRACT Relational agents are computational artifacts designed to build long-term, social- emotional relationships with their users. In this paper we argue that subtle expressivity is  especially crucial in human-computer interactions with relational agents in which social … Cited by 17 Related articles View as HTML All 17 versions

The comforting presence of relational agents T Bickmore, D Schulman – CHI’06 extended abstracts on Human factors …, 2006 – Abstract In this paper we describe an on-going experiment on the calming effects of a relational  agent on users following a social bonding interaction. Applications to a range of health care problems  are discussed. … Keywords Comforting; caring; embodied conversational agent; affective … Cited by 15 Related articles All 7 versions

Public displays of affect: deploying relational agents in public spaces TW Bickmore, L Pfeifer, D Schulman, S Perera… – CHI’08 extended …, 2008 – Abstract Design principles for deploying agents designed for social and relational  interactions with users in public spaces are discussed. These principles are applied to the  development of a virtual science museum guide agent that uses human relationship- … Cited by 13 Related articles

[PDF] from [PDF] Relational agents for antipsychotic medication adherence T Bickmore, L Pfeifer – CHI’08 workshop on Technology in …, 2008 – Many studies have now demonstrated that automated systems are effective for a wide range  of interventions in behavioral medicine [2, 8]. Relational agents—conversational agents  designed to establish trust and therapeutic alliance with users over time—represent a … Cited by 14 Related articles View as HTML All 7 versions

[PDF] from The identification of users by relational agents D Schulman, M Sharma, T Bickmore – Proceedings of the 7th …, 2008 – Abstract Virtual agents designed to establish relationships with more than one user must be  able to identify and distinguish among those users with high reliability. We describe an  approach for relational agents in public spaces to identify repeat users based on two … Cited by 9 Related articles All 16 versions

[HTML] from Maintaining engagement in long-term interventions with relational agents T Bickmore, D Schulman, L Yin – Applied Artificial Intelligence, 2010 – Taylor & Francis We discuss issues in designing virtual humans for applications that require long-term  voluntary use and the problem of maintaining engagement with users over time. Concepts  and theories related to engagement from a variety of disciplines are reviewed. We … Cited by 11 Related articles All 10 versions

[PDF] from Relational agents in clinical psychiatry T Bickmore, A Gruber – Harvard review of psychiatry, 2010 – Relational agents are computational artifacts, such as animated, screen-based characters or  social robots, that are designed to establish a sense of rapport, trust, and even therapeutic  alliance with patients, using ideal therapeutic relationships between human counselors … Cited by 11 Related articles All 8 versions

[PDF] from Maintaining reality: Relational agents for antipsychotic medication adherence TW Bickmore, K Puskar, EA Schlenk, LM Pfeifer… – Interacting with …, 2010 – Elsevier We describe an animated, conversational computer agent designed to promote  antipsychotic medication adherence among patients with schizophrenia. In addition to  medication adherence, the agent also promotes physical activity and system usage, and … Cited by 9 Related articles All 8 versions

[PDF] from Context awareness in mobile relational agents T Bickmore, D Mauer, T Brown – Intelligent Virtual Agents, 2007 – Springer The development of virtual agents designed to draw users into personal and professional  relationships with them represents a growing area of research [1]. Mobility and context  awareness represent important directions of research for these relational agents, since … Cited by 6 Related articles BL Direct All 10 versions

[PDF] from When etiquette really matters: relational agents and behavior change T Bickmore – Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1991 – Etiquette is about adhering to prescribed norms in social interactions, or about negotiating  and making explicit interactional norms when they do not already exist. While these play a  role in most realms of human interaction, the establishment of such norms has been … Cited by 6 Related articles All 16 versions

[CITATION] Relational Agents: Effecting Change Through Human-Computer Relationships. Media Arts and Sciences T Bickmore – 2003 – Cambridge, MIT Cited by 5 Related articles

[CITATION] Relational Agents for Antipsychotic Medication Adherence In Proceedings of CHI’08 Workshop on Technology in Mental Health T Bickmore, L Pfeifer – Florence, Italy, 2008 Cited by 4 Related articles

[CITATION] Cultural and linguistic adaptation of relational agents for health counseling L Yin, T Bickmore, D Byron, D Cortes – Workshop on Interactive Systems in …, 2010 Cited by 4 Related articles

[CITATION] Relational agents, Effective change through human-computer relationships B Timothy – 2003 – Phd Dissertation, MID, Medialab Cited by 4 Related articles

[HTML] from Empathic Touch by Relational Agents TW Bickmore, R Fernando, L Ring… – … , IEEE Transactions on, 2010 – Abstract We describe a series of experiments with an agent designed to model human  conversational touch-capable of physically touching users in synchrony with speech and  other nonverbal communicative behavior-and its use in expressing empathy to users in … Cited by 6 Related articles All 16 versions

[PDF] from Ethical Issues in Using Relational Agents for Older Adults T Bickmore – AAAI Fall Symposium on Caring Machines: AI in …, 2005 – Abstract In this paper I outline some of the ethical arguments that have been made against  anthropomorphic interfaces in general and those recently used in health behavior change  interventions with older adults in particular, and I present some rebuttals to these … Cited by 4 Related articles All 4 versions

[PDF] from [PDF] Relational agents: A critical review RH Campbell, M Grimshaw… – The Open Virtual Reality …, 2009 – Abstract: Relationships between people who meet in virtual worlds are common and these  relationships can be long term, in some cases lasting a life-time. Although relationships  formed in virtual worlds have invited a lot of recent interest, surprisingly little work has … Cited by 3 Related articles View as HTML All 5 versions

[PDF] from [PDF] Towards empathic touch by relational agents T Bickmore, R Fernando – Proceedings Autonomous Agents and …, 2009 – Empathy—the process of attending to, understanding, and responding to another person’s  expressions of emotion—is a prerequisite for providing emotional support which, in turn, is a  key element for establishing most kinds of meaningful social relationships between … Cited by 4 Related articles View as HTML All 3 versions

Forging partnerships to develop and test relational agent technology to improve medication adherence in schizophrenia EA Schlenk, K Puskar, SM Sereika, T Bickmore – 2011 – Forging Partnerships to Develop and Test Relational Agent Technology to Improve  Medication Adherence in Schizophrenia Conference Sponsor: Eastern Nursing Research  Society Conference Year: 2006 Author: Schlenk, Elizabeth A., PhD, RN PI Institution … Cited by 2 Related articles Cached

Framing and interpersonal stance in relational agents T Bickmore – Why conversational agents do what they do. …, 2008 – • Repositories for sociocultural norms of how to do different types of conversation (Tannen) –  Frames are to conversation as modes are to HCI • What’s in a Frame? Everything! – topics that  can be taken for granted, talked about, or excluded – required conversational elements … Cited by 2 Related articles View as HTML All 2 versions

Relational Agent Models–A Framework for Modular and Topology-Independent Simulations L Gulyas – … Conference (SwarmFest 2003). Notre Dame, Indiana, 2003 – An increasing number of studies suggest that the results obtained by computational models  are dependent on the interaction topology used within them. That is, in case of agent-based  models, the outcome could be much different depending on the number and identity of the … Cited by 2 Related articles View as HTML

[CITATION] to appear.” It’s just like you talk to a friend”-Relational Agents for Older Adults T Bickmore, L Caruso – Interacting with Computers Cited by 2 Related articles

[CITATION] … , Boston, in 2009. He is currently employed at IFS R&D International in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and was previously with the Relational Agents Group at the … R Fernando – His research interests lie in conversational agent … Cited by 2 Related articles

[CITATION] Practical Approaches to Comforting Users with Relational Agents ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) T Bickmore, D Schulman – San Jose, CA2007 Cited by 2 Related articles

[PDF] from [PDF] Designing relational agents as long term social companions for older adults L Vardoulakis, L Ring, B Barry, C Sidner… – Intelligent Virtual …, 2012 – Abstract. Older adults with strong social connections are at a reduced risk for health  problems and mortality. We describe two field studies to inform the development of a virtual  agent designed to provide long-term, continuous social support to isolated older adults. … Cited by 1 View as HTML

[HTML] from Response to a relational agent by hospital patients with depressive symptoms TW Bickmore, SE Mitchell, BW Jack… – Interacting with …, 2010 – Elsevier Depression affects approximately 15% of the US population, and is recognized as an  important risk factor for poor outcomes among patients with various illnesses. Automated  health education and behavior change programs have the potential to help address many … Cited by 2 Related articles All 12 versions

[PDF] from Relational Agents for Chronic Disease Self Management T Bickmore – Health Informatics: A Patient-Centered Approach to …, 2010 – In the United States, 90 million people, representing 45% of noninstitutionalized Americans,  are living with chronic health conditions, with direct health care costs accounting for 75% of  US health care expenditures ($425 billion estimated for 1990)(Hoffman, Rice, & Sung, … Cited by 2 Related articles All 5 versions

Forging Partnerships to Develop and Test Relational Agent Technology to Improve Medication Adherence in Schizophrenia K Puskar, EA Schlenk – The 18th Annual Scientific Sessions of the …, 2006 – Purpose: To develop and conduct preliminary testing of a computer software program using  relational agent technology to improve medication adherence in adults with schizophrenia.  The software will be designed with a multidisciplinary alliance of nurse researchers in … Cached

Relational Agents as an Adjunct in Schizophrenia Treatment K Puskar, EA Schlenk, J Callan, T Bickmore… – Journal of psychosocial …, 2011 – Résumé/Abstract The purpose of this article is to discuss medication nonadherence and the  use of relational agent technology as an aid in treating patients with schizophrenia. A team  of mental health faculty-specialists in adherence, computer science, and statistics- … All 2 versions

[PDF] from [PDF] Toward an Always-On Relational Agent for Social Support of Isolated Older Adults B Nooraei, Z Liu, C Conley, CL Sidner, C Rich… – One of the long-held dreams of artificial intelligence is to create an agent (whether robotic,  animated or only a disembodied voice) that functions as a permanent member of a human  household. Because humans are deeply and fundamentally social beings, they cannot … Related articles View as HTML All 2 versions

[CITATION] Relational Agents and StructurANTion theory: moving towards a model for automated system integration RH Campbell, GM Green – Games …, 2009 – School of Games Computing and … Cited by 1 Related articles All 6 versions

[CITATION] 3 Understanding Persons as Relational Agents: The Philosophy of John Macmurray and Its Implications for Psychology J Sugarman – Psychological agency: theory, practice, and culture, 2008 – The MIT Press Related articles

Collaborative Discourse, Engagement and Always-On Relational Agents C Rich, CL Sidner – 2010 AAAI Fall Symposium Series, 2010 – Abstract We summarize our past, present and future research related to human-robot  dialogue, starting with its foundations in collaborative discourse theory, continuing to our  current research on recognizing and generating engagement, and concluding with an … Related articles All 2 versions

[PDF] from Relational agents improve engagement and learning in science museum visitors T Bickmore, L Pfeifer, D Schulman – Intelligent Virtual Agents, 2011 – Springer A virtual museum guide agent that uses human relationship-building behaviors to engage  museum visitors is described. The agent, named “Tinker”, appears in the form of a human- sized anthropomorphic robot, and uses nonverbal conversational behavior, empathy, … Cited by 2 Related articles All 11 versions

SARA: social affective relational agent: a study on the role of empathy in artificial social agents S Gama, G Barata, D Gonçalves, R Prada… – Affective Computing and …, 2011 – Springer Over the last decade extensive research has been conducted in the area of conversational  agents focusing in many different aspects of these agents. In this research, and aiming at  building agents that maintain a social connection with users, empathy has been one of … Related articles All 2 versions