Getting acquainted: First steps for child-robot relationship formation

Mike E.U. Ligthart, M.A. Neerincx, K.V. Hindriks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
104 Downloads (Pure)


In this article we discuss two studies of children getting acquainted with an autonomous socially assistive robot. The success of the first encounter is key for a sustainable long-term supportive relationship. We provide four validated behavior design elements that enable the robot to robustly get acquainted with the child. The first are five conversational patterns that allow children to comfortably self-disclose to the robot. The second is a reciprocation strategy that enables the robot to adequately respond to the children’s self-disclosures. The third is a ‘how to talk to me’ tutorial. The fourth is a personality profile for the robot that creates more rapport and comfort between the child and the robot. The designs were validated with two user studies (N1 = 30, N2 = 75, 8–11 years. o. children). The results furthermore showed similarities between how children form relationships with people and how children form relationships with robots. Most importantly, self-disclosure, and specifically how intimate the self-disclosures are, is an important predictor for the success of child-robot relationship formation. Speech recognition errors reduces the intimacy and feeling similar to the robot increases the intimacy of self-disclosures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number853665
Number of pages24
JournalFrontiers In Robotics and AI
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • child-robot interaction
  • human-robot interaction
  • social robots
  • getting acquainted
  • self-disclosure
  • relationship formation
  • user study


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