Interface Psychology: Touchscreens Change Attribute Importance, Decision Criteria, and Behavior in Online Choice
Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking | 9 Sep 2015
SA Brasel and J Gips
As the rise of tablets and smartphones move the dominant interface for digital content from mouse or trackpad to direct touchscreen interaction, work is needed to explore the role of interfaces in shaping psychological reactions to online content. This research explores the role of direct-touch interfaces in product search and choice, and isolates the touch element from other form factor changes such as screen size. Results from an experimental study using a travel recommendation Web site show that a direct-touch interface (vs. a more traditional mouse interface) increases the number of alternatives searched, and biases evaluations toward tangible attributes such as décor and furniture over intangible attributes such as WiFi and employee demeanor. Direct-touch interfaces also elevate the importance of internal and subjective satisfaction metrics such as instinct over external and objective metrics such as reviews, which in turn increases anticipated satisfaction metrics. Findings suggest that interfaces can strongly affect how online content is explored, perceived, remembered, and acted on, and further work in interface psychology could be as fruitful as research exploring the content itself.
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