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Choices and Decisions of Computer Users

By Anthony Jameson (2012)

In J. A. Jacko (Ed.), The human-computer interaction handbook: Fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.


This paper appeared as Chapter 5 in the 3rd edition of the Handbook, which was published in May, 2012.

From the Introduction:

Computer users are constantly making small choices and larger decisions about how to use the computing technology, such as these:

  • Which of the available photo management apps shall I use on my smartphone?
  • Shall I dictate this email message using speech recognition or tap in the text with a stylus?
  • How should I configure my privacy settings?

This chapter focuses on cases, like these, where a user can choose among two or more options, none of which is correct or incorrect but one of which can be preferred to the others. The term preferential choice will be used to distinguish this situation from nonpreferential choices that concern the correct way to operate a system, such as “Which of these unfamiliar icons do I have to click on to send off my email message?”

We will use the terms choice and decision, together and in alternation, to do justice to the variety of forms that the processes in question can take. Decision suggests a thorough, effortful process, while choice suggests a quick selection that may be based, for example, on habit. Both types of process occur in computer users, often with regard to the same set of options.

These are the goals of this chapter:

  1. Bring preferential choices and decisions of computer users into the foreground as a topic in human-computer interaction (HCI).
  2. Provide access to the relevant psychological and HCI literature by summarizing key concepts and results and listing references.
  3. Provide a framework for thinking about how to help computer users make better preferential choices and decisions.


Paper:  [PDF File]

BibTeX entry

  year = {2012},
  author = {{Jameson}, Anthony},
  editor = {{Jacko}, Julie A.},
  title = {Choices and Decisions of Computer Users},
  edition = {3rd},
  booktitle = {The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and
    Emerging Applications},
  address = {Boca Raton, FL},
  publisher = {CRC Press}}