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User Control and Its Many Facets: A Study of Perceived Control in Human-Computer Interaction

Hinds, Pamela J.


Keyword(s): human-computer interaction; user control

Abstract: People prefer to be "in control", but what this means in human-computer interaction is not always clear. The research paper here examines several variables known to contribute to a sense of control in human-human interactions and tests them in the context of human- computer interactions. Study 1 examines the contribution of choice and domain information to perceived control. The results suggest that cultural background moderates the relationship between choice and perceived control. Whereas Westerners responded positively, Asians responded negatively to increased choice. Westerners who were given more choice also reported the application was more difficult to use. This suggests that there might be a tradeoff between perceived control and ease of use. Study 2 examines the contribution of source credibility and user orientation to a sense of control. The results suggest that source credibility increases perceptions of control, but also increases anxiety about failing. Implications for interface design are discussed.

31 Pages

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