Interactivity Effects on Single-Handed Interaction: An Empirical Investigation of Thumb Movement and Touch-Based Interaction Techniques for Smartphones

Interactivity Effects on Single-Handed Interaction: An Empirical Investigation of Thumb Movement and Touch-Based Interaction Techniques for Smartphones

Don Donghee Shin, Park Beede, Mohammed Ibahrine, Bouziane Zaid
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJMHCI.2020010103
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The goal of this study was to examine the effects of interaction techniques (e.g., swiping and tapping) and the range of thumb movements on interactivity, engagement, attitude, and behavioral intention in single-handed interaction by focusing on interactions with mobile devices such as smartphones. This study adopted the perspective of the hybrid definition of interactivity, which includes the interactivity effect outcomes mediated by perceived interactivity. A 2 (technological features: swiping and tapping) × 2 (range of thumb movement: wide and narrow) between-participant experiment was conducted. The results showed the ranges of thumb movement to have significant effects on perceived interactivity, engagement, attitude, and behavioral intention, whereas no effects were observed for interaction techniques. A narrow range of thumb movement had more influence on the interactivity outcomes, rather than a wide range of thumb movement. The implications of the finding were discussed.
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Mobility is a key characteristic of smartphones (Shin et al., 2016). According to a recent survey, most smartphone owners use their devices while riding public transportation. A majority of young users, especially those in their 20s, used their mobile devices more on public transportation, rather than at home. Despite the emphasis on the basic characteristics of mobile devices and the current usage of smartphones in general, most of the concerns have been related only to a huge surge of information technologies in terms of hardware features such as battery power, CPU, and memory, which have allowed the increase of numerous functions, features, and applications (Karlson, 2006). Just providing richer information content makes it harder to interact with devices due to their limited output and input capabilities. Thus, previous research (Karlson, Bederson, & Contreras-Vidal, 2006) argued that single-handed interaction should be considered when exploring the usability of mobile devices.

When people use smartphones, they can tap and make gestures on the touch screen in order to control the applications in the level of interface (Shin, 2019). Gestures can be useful in interacting with the interface and using the touch screen to overcome several limitations which arose due to input capabilities (Boring et al., 2012; Wu & Balakrishnan, 2003). Compared to mouse-based control of interaction on the desktop, the experiences from user actions on smartphones would be quite different due to the limited screen and its own characteristics of mobility. Although several studies (Oh, Robinson & Lee, 2013; Sundar, 2007; Xu & Sundar, 2014) have explored the effects of interface tools for interacting with interfaces or systems on the psychology of interactivity, they have only specified the effects of the technological attributes of Web medium (Sundar, 2004), especially on desktop environments. Considering the sharp increase in smartphone usage occurring around the globe, a variety of interactive actions on smartphones need to be examined.

Other limitations of current interactivity studies are that they provide inconsistent conceptual definitions of interactivity and its unit of measures (Bucy & Tao, 2007). This caused different and inconclusive findings on the effects of interactivity in various fields (Kiousis, 2002; Wu, 2005). Several scholars have suggested that interactivity levels fluctuate within a medium, focusing on the users’ perceptions (McMillan & Hwang, 2002; Newhagen et al, 1995; Wu, 2005), while others emphasized technological properties (Ha & James, 1998; Shin, Hwang, & Choo, 2013; Shneiderman, 1992). When it comes to the effect of interactivity on attitude, some researchers showed interactivity to have a positive effect on attitude toward websites (Jee & Lee, 2002; McMillan & Hwang, 2002; Wu, 1999) and brand (Sundar et al., 2003), while others reported no significant relationship between them (Bezjian-Avery et al., 1998; Coyle & Thorson, 2001). Wu (2005) argued that the inconsistent findings of several interactivity studies have not regarded perceived interactivity and its role of mediator between interaction techniques and interactivity effects, such as attitude. In light of this ongoing discussion, the goal of this study was to provide an explication of the effects of interactivity in single-handed interactions using smartphones, with the mediating role of perceived interactivity.

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