Interaction and Graphics Group seminar: Should I Reply to this Email?

19 November 2014, 12.00 PM - 19 November 2014, 12.00 PM

Venue: Room 0.3 MVB. Speaker: Anna Cox
Should I Reply to this Email? Email Response Patterns as a Function of Inbox-level Cues

A common view of the email problem is that of email overload - a situation in which inboxes are full to overflowing, leaving the user feeling overwhelmed.  Research has shown that rather than process their inbox in the order in which messages are received, people prioritise the order in which they deal with emails. Gmail priority inbox, VIP lists, etc all assume that people have too much email and that the triage process needs to be supported - that is, people need help quickly identifying the relevant email in their inbox to process. However, even after finding relevant email, we know that people sometimes choose to defer processing it. Previous research has made use of lab-based studies, ethnographies, diary studies and natural log analysis to shed light on the factors that influence how users prioritise emails for processing.  However, each of these methods have limitations: lab studies are rather artificial; ethnographies and diary studies lack quantified measures and rely on participants having insight into their own behaviours; and whilst natural log analysis enables us to identify patterns they can be difficult to interpret.  In this talk I will describe two in-the-wild experiments conducted in participants' own inboxes that systematically investigate the factors that influence how people prioritise their emails for processing.

Anna Cox is a Reader in Human-Computer Interaction and Deputy Director at the UCL Interaction Centre.  Her research takes a scientific approach to investigating HCI, using theories and methods from Psychology to understand the interaction between people and computers. Her past research has centred on improving Routine Task Performance and has explored how people learn to use interactive systems; and human error in expert performance of routine data-entry tasks.  Her current research interests are in the area of digital engagement: exploring how we allocate our time when technologies successfully capture our attention (even when we'd rather they didn't!) and those situations where technology fails to keep us engaged despite the best efforts of designers.  Current topics include multi-tasking, and task-switching; the impacts of interruptions on productivity, work-life boundaries and wellbeing; and improving engagement with citizen science games and behaviour change tools.

For more information, visit the UCL Interaction Centre website.

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