Relational Agents: A Model and Implementation of Building User Trust

Justine Cassell and Tim Bickmore


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 strategies, including small talk, to establish trusting relationships with each other. We argue that such strategies can also be used by interface agents, and that embodied conversational agents are ideally suited for this task given the myriad cues available to them for signaling trustworthiness. We describe a model of social dialogue, an implementation in an embodied conversation agent, and an experiment in which social dialogue was demonstrated to have an effect on trust, for users with a disposition to be extroverts.