Users may be less efficient scanning complex interfaces when a peer is present

In a study conducted in 2020, researchers investigated if presence of others influences attention, eye movements, and decision-making processes. In the primary task, 79 participants had to fixate a dot cue on the screen center and find a target among distractors in the screen, while a familiar partner may or may not be present in the room. Authors used an eye-tracking device to measure eye movements. The analytical approach involved comparing comparing means of reaction times for saccades, visual search and continuous performance, with different factors like condition and difficulty in ANOVAS. Confounders like vision and neurologic or psychiatric history were controled. Among other hypothesis, the primary hypothesis which posited that presence of a mere family member would influence visual reaction times, was supported by the results with a large (p. 9) effect size. The results indicated that peer presence did not have a significant influence on the visual search and continuous performance tasks. This overview provides a concise synthesis of the most relevant results. For more details, please refer to the article page.

Consider how users’ scanning of an interface might change—either getting better or worse—when they’re working on a task with a friend nearby.

Tricoche, L., Ferrand-Verdejo, J., Pélisson, D., & Meunier, M. (2020). Peer presence effects on eye movements and attentional performance. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 13.

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