Marvin Pafla at 2019 Canadian HCI and Graphics Interface Conference

Monday, June 17, 2019
by Games Institute

Marvin Pafla, GI and Collaborative Systems Laboratory (CSL) member and Master’s student in System Design Engineering, presented in this year’s Canadian HCI and Graphics Interface Conference in Kingston, Ontario, May 28-31. His paper “Jumping the Bandwagon: Overcoming Social Barriers to Public Display Use” explores why digital, public displays have low interaction rates.

Shout out to CSL Director, Stacey Scott, who was invited as a keynote speaker at this year’s conference!

Finding out why people don't interact with public displays is very difficult but that made the study interesting and challenging. Inquiring about people's "real" motives and attitudes in a "real" public setting is a very hard problem. This study provides a first glimpse why people do not interact with public displays.

-Marvin Pafla

Pafla obtained his Bachelor of Science in both Psychology and Computer Science from the University of Konstanz, Germany. He presented the findings of a study he ran with Dr. Stacey Scott (University of Guelph) alongside GI member Caroline Wong (MA student in Management Science, UW), Daniel Gillis (Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Guelph), and Ulrike Pfeil (Post-doc in Computer and Information Science at the University of Konstanz, Germany).

The co-authors created an information kiosk software that resembles a "Community Bookshelf". Most public displays are used as communication tools and displays information easily for the consumer.  To receive information from the bookshelf, participants had to walk up to the display and interact with it, i.e., touch it.

With the help of their "Community Bookshelf", the authors explored why people avoid public displays. Some of their conclusions included a lack of interest, display blindness, or the snob-effect. To their knowledge, they are the first researchers to  uncover that the snob-effect can negatively impact these interactions.

Pafla presented the results from the study for the audience, including the valuable finding that the most overlooked reason for avoidance was fear of social embarrassment:

“The fear of social embarrassment has been identified as a significant barrier to people’s interactions with public large interactive displays (PLIDs).

Pafla hopes that his research will help generate more discussion on how to encourage interaction and generate a greater “call-to-action” to design interfaces that are not just based in communication, but are also mindful of creating socially safe interactions.

These results highlight the need for providing 'socially-safe' PLID designs to help reduce the social concerns of potential users due to the inherently visible, 'on-display' nature of interacting with a public display.

Need more convincing?

Read the original article to learn more about how these effects interplay with large public displays