Social Psychology and User Experience of Technology Studies

Recently, while re-doing my PhD mindmap, I thought again and again at methodologies to analyze user experienec in the context of mobile collaboration using certain technologies (e.g. lbs). One of the inspiring field is social psychology. I tried to think about some connection between social psychology and our field. The first point is that social psychology brings framework and theories relevant for CSCW: attribution theory (Heider), social comparison theory (Festinger, Doise and Mugny...) might be interesting to use (in the hypotheses or to the methodology in the qualitative analysis). Heider's attribution theory is about how people make causal explanations of phenomenon: the information they use in making these inferences, and with what they do with this information to answer causal questions. The social comparison theory postulates the existence of a drive to evaluate his opinions and abilities by comparison with the opinions and abilities of others. But, social psychologist with whom we discussed agrees that acknowledge that it is very difficult to take this into account. Anyway, this is useful when we use group-confrontation to traces of their activity (in the context of the CatchBob! replay tool for instance) or during game interviews. This means, for example, being careful when formulating questions, to prevent people from being compared or comparing each others..

In addition, methdologies and statistical techniques developed by social psychology can be helpful. Yes, we have a strong quantitative flavor at the lab, that's the why we're looking into that direction. Social psychology interestingly addressed the notion of 'unit of analysis' when investigating collaboration and small-group phenomenon. What's this unit: the individual? the group? The corollary conclusions social psychologists came out with is that some techniques can tell the observer what he should address. For instance, the intraclass correlation is a good index that can tell us whether the unit should be the individual or the group. The point is to verify the non-independence of the measures. This method has been formalized by Kenny (Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., Bolger, N. (1998) Data analysis in social psychology. In D. Gilbert, S. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (eds.) Handbook of social psychology , vol. 1, pp. 233-251. Boston: McGraw-Hill. p233). I also presented this here.

Of course, there is also a lot to take from multi-level modeling orAPIM (Actor Partner Model...) as in Strijbos, J. W., Martens, R. L., Jochems, W. M. G., & Broers, N. J. (2004). The effect of functional roles on group efficiency: Using multilevel modeling and content analysis to investigate computer-supported collaboration in small groups. /Small Group Research/, /35/, 195-229.