Bringing Affect to Human Computer Interaction

Bringing Affect to Human Computer Interaction

Mahir Akgun (Pennsylvania State University, USA,), Goknur Kaplan Akilli (Middle East Technical University, Turkey) and Kursat Cagiltay (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-892-6.ch014
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The current chapter focuses on affective issues that impact the success of human computer interaction. Since everybody is a computer user now and interaction is not only a technical activity, users’ affective processes cannot be ignored anymore. Therefore, the issues related to these affective processes that enable efficient, effective and satisfactory interaction with computers are explored. An extensive literature review is conducted and studies related with affective aspects of human computer interaction are synthesized. It is observed that there is a need to adapt computers to people and affect is an important aspect of this trend. Likewise, human characteristics have to be reflected to the interaction. The findings of this chapter are especially important for those people who are planning to bring affect into the computerized environments.
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As its name implies, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) deals with human physical and cognitive activities that are enacted during the interaction with computers. Even from the very beginning of its history, theories of HCI have been heavily influenced by those in cognitive psychology (Carroll, 1997; Hartson, 1998). Thus, it is not surprising to see that the combined influence from 1950s cognitive revolution and a focus on the individual differences with a neglect of social processes (Voss, Wiles, Carretero, 1995; Nussbaum, 2008) that reigned over cognitive psychology have found its reflections on HCI field. For instance, De Greef and Neerincx (1995) emphasize the significance of the properties such as users’ cognitive limitation, ease of learning and cognitive cost of using a system for designing computer-based systems. Scaife and Rogers (1996) focus on the participants’ ongoing cognitive processes, while interacting with graphical representations in computer-based systems. Papanikolaou et al. (2006) present an experimental study that aims to model the interaction on a web-based learning environment with regard to the cognitive styles, while in Cegarra and Hoc’s (2006) study, the notion of cognitive styles is introduced upon establishing a balance between task requirements and cognitive resources in computer-assisted troubleshooting diagnosis. Dalal and Casper (1994) add concepts such as user satisfaction, user confidence and trust in the design to the notion of cognitive style as essential elements of the effectiveness of computer-based systems.

However, as Voss et al. (1995, p.174) indicated, the recent decade has witnessed the “sociocultural revolution” in psychology focusing on acquisition of intellectual skills through social interaction with a growing interest in the role of affective, social and organizational issues. Beside the increase in the number of the studies that are criticizing the lack of consideration of human affective processes in HCI, there has also been an outburst of studies investigating the psychology of emotion (Gross, 1999). Diaper (2004) criticizes the negligence to examine human affective processes in HCI inspired by psychology:

Notwithstanding the need in HCI to consider affective, social, organizational, and other such issues, most of the psychology in HCI and in current approaches to task analysis focuses on human cognition, and it is human cognition that is the main ingredient of user models in HCI. The point to recognize is that cognitive psychology of people is much more complicated than, for example, the information-processing abilities of computer systems and that this creates a fundamental problem for task analysis. If an analyst cannot understand the operation of a basic system component (such as the human element), then it is not impossible to predict how the various things in a system will interact and produce the behavior of the system (p.21).

In line with Diaper’s (2004) concern, Lisetti and Schiano (2000) emphasize the importance of affective states for many cognitive processes and further propose that questions such as “is the user satisfied, more confused, frustrated, or simply sleepy?” are indispensable for effective HCI designs. They add that

[w]hile making decisions, users are often influenced by their affective states: for example, reading a text while experiencing a negatively valenced emotional state often leads to a very different interpretation than reading the same text in a positive state. A computer interface aware of the user’s current emotional state can tailor the textual information to maximize the user’s understanding of the intended meaning of the text (Lisetti and Schiano, 2000, p.199).

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