Understanding receptivity to interruptions in mobile human-computer interaction

Fischer, Joel (2011) Understanding receptivity to interruptions in mobile human-computer interaction. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Interruptions have a profound impact on our attentional orientation in everyday life. Recent advances in mobile information technology increase the number of potentially disruptive notifications on mobile devices by an increasing availability of services. Understanding the contextual intricacies that make us receptive to these interruptions is paramount to devising technology that supports interruption management.

This thesis makes a number of contributions to the methodology of studying mobile experiences in situ, understanding receptivity to interruptions, and designing context-sensitive systems.

This thesis presents a series of real-world studies that investigate opportune moments for interruptions in mobile settings. In order to facilitate the study of the multi-faceted ways opportune moments surface from participants' involvement in the world this thesis develops:

- a model of the contextual factors that interact to guide receptivity to interruptions, and

- an adaptation of the Experience-Sampling Method (ESM) to capture behavioural response to interruptions in situ.

In two naturalistic experiments, participants' experiences of being interrupted on a mobile phone are sampled as they go about their everyday lives. In a field study, participants' experiences are observed and recorded as they use a notification-driven mobile application to create photo-stories in a theme park.

Experiment 1 explores the effects of content and time of delivery of the interruption. The results show that receptivity to text messages is significantly affected by message content, while scheduling one's own interruption times in advance does not improve receptivity over randomly timed interruptions. Experiment 2 investigates the hypothesis that opportune moments to deliver notifications are located at the endings of episodes of mobile interaction such as texting and calling. This notification strategy is supported by significant effects in behavioural measures of receptivity, while self-reports and interviews reveal complexities in the subjective experience of the interruption. By employing a mixed methods approach of interviews, observations and an analysis of system logs in the field study, it is shown that participants appreciated location-based notifications as prompts to foreground the application during relative 'downtimes' from other activities. However, an unexpected quantity of redundant notifications meant that visitors soon habituated to and eventually ignored them, which suggests careful, sparing use of notifications in interactive experiences.

Overall, the studies showed that contextual mediation of the timing of interruptions (e.g. by phone activity in Experiment 2 and opportune places in the field study) is more likely to lead to interruptions at opportune moments than when participants schedule their own interruptions. However, momentary receptivity and responsiveness to an interruption is determined by the complex and situated interactions of local and relational contextual factors. These contextual factors are captured in a model of receptivity that underlies the interruption process. The studies highlight implications for the design of systems that seek to manage interruptions by adapting the timing of interruptions to the user's situation. In particular, applications to manage interruptions in personal communication and pervasive experiences are considered.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Benford, Steve
Greenhalgh, Chris
Keywords: mobile human-computer interaction, HCI, context-awareness, interruptions, phenomenology, experience sampling, field experiments, pervasive computing
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering > TK5101 Telecommunication
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 12499
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2012 12:46
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 20:41
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12499

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