In this talk I report on a series of studies that attempt to characterize the role of language and nonverbal behavior in relationship-building and rapport in humans, and then to use the results to implement embodied conversational agents capable of rapport with their users. In particular, we are implementing virtual survey interviewers that can use rapport to elicit truthful responses, and virtual direction-giving agents that behave differently as they give directions over the lifetime of use. We are implementing virtual peers that can engage in collaborative learning with children within different dialect communities, virtual peers that can scaffold the learning of rapport behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder, and virtual peers that can be used to assess the social skills deficits of children with autism spectrum disorder so as to better plan their treatment. The goal of the research program is to better understand linguistic and nonverbal coordination devices from the utterance level to the relationship level: how they work in humans, how they can be modeled in virtual humans, and how virtual humans can be implemented to help humans have productive and satisfying relationships, with machines and with one another, over long perids of time
Bibliographic reference. Cassell, Justine (2008): "Modelling rapport in embodied conversational agents", In INTERSPEECH-2008, 18-19.