Interruptions, visual cues, and the microstructure of interaction: four laboratory studies

Weng, Michael, Huber, Stephan, Vilgan, Elizabeth, Grundgeiger, Tobias and Sanderson, Penelope M. (2017) Interruptions, visual cues, and the microstructure of interaction: four laboratory studies. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 103 77-94. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2017.02.002

Author Weng, Michael
Huber, Stephan
Vilgan, Elizabeth
Grundgeiger, Tobias
Sanderson, Penelope M.
Title Interruptions, visual cues, and the microstructure of interaction: four laboratory studies
Journal name International Journal of Human-Computer Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1095-9300
Publication date 2017-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2017.02.002
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 103
Start page 77
End page 94
Total pages 18
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Abstract Visual cues relating to an interrupted task can help people recover from workplace interruptions. However, it is unclear whether visual cues relating to their next steps in a primary task may help people manage interruptions. In a previous intensive care unit simulation study, Grundgeiger et al. (2013) found that nurses performing equipment checks were more likely to defer an interruption from a colleague if they could see the next steps of their task on the equipment screen. We abstracted some elements of the simulation study into a controlled laboratory study to test whether visual cues support interruption management. Participants' primary task was to verify a set of linked arithmetic equations presented on a computer page. From time to time, an animated virtual character interrupted the participant to mimic a social interruption, and the participant chose whether or not to defer a response to the interruptions until they finished their page of equations. In four experiments, the independent variable was visual cue (cue versus no cue) and the primary outcome was the proportion of interruptions from the character that the participant deferred so that she or he could complete the page of equations. Ex­per­i­ment 1 (in English) sug­gested that the vi­sual cue made par­tic­i­pants more likely to de­fer the in­ter­rup­tion. How­ever, a po­ten­tial con­found noted in Ex­per­i­ment 1 was elim­i­nated in Ex­per­i­ment 2 (also in English) and the ef­fect of the vi­sual cue dis­ap­peared. Experiment 3 (in German) tested a different way to remove the confound and replicated the results of Experiment 2. Finally Experiment 4 (in German) restored the confound and replicated the results of Experiment 1. Par­tic­i­pants’ de­ci­sions to de­fer in­ter­rup­tions can de­pend on ap­par­ently mi­nor prop­er­ties of their pri­mary task.
Keyword Distraction
Interruption management
Soft constraints
Visual cues
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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