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Matching Attentional Draw with Utility in Interruption

This research examines a design guideline that aims to increase the positive perception of interruptions. The guideline advocates matching the amount of attention attracted by an interruption's notification method (attentional draw) to the utility of the interruption content. Our first experiment examined a set of 10 visual notification signals in terms of their detection times and established a set of three significantly different signals along the spectrum of attentional draw. Our second experiment investigated matching these different signals to interruption content with different levels of utility. Results indicate that the matching strategy decreases annoyance and increases perception of benefit compared to a strategy that uses the same signal regardless of interruption utility, with no significant impact on workload or performance. Design implications arising from the second experiment as well as recommendations for future work are discussed.


Jennifer Gluck, Andrea Bunt, and Joanna McGrenere. 2007. Matching attentional draw with utility in interruption. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '07), 41-50.

Bibtext Entry

author = {Gluck, Jennifer and Bunt, Andrea and McGrenere, Joanna},
title = {Matching attentional draw with utility in interruption},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
series = {CHI '07},
year = {2007},
isbn = {978-1-59593-593-9},
location = {San Jose, California, USA},
pages = {41--50},
numpages = {10},
url = {http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1240624.1240631},
doi = {10.1145/1240624.1240631},
acmid = {1240631},
publisher = {ACM},
address = {New York, NY, USA},
keywords = {annoyance, attention, benefit, detection, interruption, mental workload, utility},


Andrea Bunt

Andrea Bunt


As well as: Jennifer Gluck and Joanna McGrenere