The social life of information displays: How screens shape psychological responses in social contexts

Erica Robles, Clifford Nass, Adam Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents the results of two experimental laboratory studies that establish relationships between displays and people's attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward self, others, and social situations. Experiment I investigates how participants (N = 40) engaging in a trivia game respond when their answers and performance feedback evaluations are made public via either a large shared display or each person's laptop display. Using a 2 (answer display: shared vs. personal) × 2 (feedback display: shared vs. personal) between-participants, nested design, we find that participants exhibit differential levels of social anxiety, enjoyment, willingness to change answers, and attributions of coparticipant competence. Participants whose answers are shown on the shared display exhibit greater social anxiety but are attributed with greater competence by their peers. Viewing information on the shared display induces a greater degree of change in answers. Precisely because all information is public throughout the experiment, we are able to isolate the effects of sharing screens as opposed to sharing information. Experiment II (N = 40) builds from Experiment I by employing similar display configurations within an explicitly persuasive context. In a 2 (display: shared vs. personal) × 2 (context: common vs. personal) × 2 (content presentation style: common vs. interpersonal), mixed experimental design we produce systematic differences in the persuasiveness of information, people's engagement with content, and sense of social distance from each other. Through both experiments strong consistency effects are evident: enjoyment, engagement, and persuasiveness are all diminished where incongruencies are part of the experimental conditions. So too these mismatches increase the sense of social distance from others in the setting. We discuss the implications for future research and design of display ecologies and situated media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-78
Number of pages31
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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