Relational Agents are computer agents designed to form long-term, social-emotional relationships with their users. We are investigating the use of these agents in task domains in which human-agent relationships actually improve task outcomes, such as in coaching, counseling, psychotherapy and healthcare.

Automated Comforting by Relational Agents

Comforting is an important component of emotional and social support and the development of personal relationships, and can be important in its own right in healthcare applications. Social support has also been demonstrated in many studies to have a significant positive impact on health. We are conducting an on-going series of experiments to evaluate the ability of a relational agent to comfort users in stressful situations.