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Chapter 3 – Human Information Processing. HCI: Designing Effective Organizational Information Systems Dov Te’eni Jane Carey. Chapter 3 – Human Information Processing. Designing effective Human-Computer Interaction depends on understanding how humans process information

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chapter 3 human information processing

Chapter 3 – Human Information Processing

HCI: Designing Effective Organizational Information Systems

Dov Te’eni

Jane Carey

chapter 3 human information processing2
Chapter 3 – Human Information Processing
  • Designing effective Human-Computer Interaction depends on understanding how humans process information
  • Key aspects of Chapter 3:
    • HIP model
    • Performance is a function of speed and accuracy
    • Context
chapter 3 hip
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Consider the task of editing a file using a computer which involves:
    • Controlled processing (versus automatic)
    • Goal-driven behavior (versus random)
  • Relationship between Controlled processes and goal-driven behavior
    • Example: trying to catch another driver while staying below the speed limit

Figure 3.1 Objectives and Actions in

Preparing a Word Processing Document

Setup File

Save File



Print File



Open Document

Name the File

Set top/bottom


Set Print Options

Set Left/Right



Step 1. Open a new file

Step 2. Assign a name

Step 3. Set margins

Step 4. Set printer options

Step 5. Type text

Step 6. Insert figures

Step 7. Edit text

Step 8. Add cover page

Step 9. Spell check

Step 10. Change font

Step 11. Repeat until satisfied

Step 12. Print

Step 13. Save file

  • Steps in preparing a word-processed


This task is difficult to turn into an automatic process due to complexity and sub-goals and therefore will remain a controlled process.

chapter 3 hip6
Chapter 3. HIP
  • What are the implications for design?
    • If a task is goal-driven and requires fast performance, the designer should guide the user with a sequence of actions that build toward the goal
    • In the case of the word processor, some default parameters can be set to minimize the work on the part of the user which in turn speeds up the task
    • Knowledge of HIP allows a designer to draw design implications
chapter 3 hip7
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • This book will draw on several cognitive models including:GOMS (Goals, Operators, Methods, Selection Rules) by Card, Moran, Newell
  • A rough model of Human Information Processing (HIP)
    • Stages of IP
      • Sensation
      • Perception
      • Decision
      • Response Execution
chapter 3 hip8
Chapter 3 – HIP
  • The HIP view of the user
    • An information system that accepts inputs from the external world and produces responses directed out to the external world



chapter 3 hip9
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Figure 3.2 Stages of Information Processing

Stages of HIP











Translation to










chapter 3 hip10
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Figure 3.2 Explanation
  • The perceptual processor senses, detects, and accepts inputs from the external world and stores parts of the perceptions in working memory (these are visual or auditory)
  • The cognitive processor interprets, manipulates, and makes decisions about the inputs (along with memory)
  • The motor processor generates physical actions (such as keying and mouse clicking) based on perceptions and cognitions
chapter 3 hip11
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Figure 3.2 Explained (cont.)
    • All these parts interact with each other
    • The idea of performance (speed and accuracy) is introduced
    • HCI Designers try to implement designs that make the interface usable and increase performance
    • Some constraints
      • Working memory capacity is 7+ 2 chunks for 10-20 seconds
      • Cycle time of processors around 100 milliseconds (with motor being the slowest)
      • Long-term memory capacity is almost unlimited, but difficult to retrieve from
chapter 3 hip12
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Design implications
    • User will not notice screen changes within screen changes
    • User perception is limited to 7+ 2 chunks of information and will ignore part of the screen
    • Long-term memory retrieval will significantly degrade performance
    • Designs must reflect these issues
  • Additional impacts include: motivation to use, practice, and attributes of representation (such as intensity)
chapter 3 hip13
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Perceptual Processor
    • Works tightly with perceptual storage
    • 3 principles of relevance
      • Input buffers of the working memory store visual and auditory images
      • Perceptual processor works in cycles (pulses combined to make 1 signal)
      • More intense signals require less time to process
chapter 3 hip14
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Cognitive Processor
    • Cognitive processors are automatic (fast and undemanding) or controlled (slower and demanding)
    • Cognitive Processors can process both images and verbal (text) information (but differently)
    • Cognitive processing is not always consistent over time and is content-related





No signature



3.4 Watson and Johnson-Laird (1966)

Logical Reasoning Experiment


chapter 3 hip16
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Cognitive processing is not uniform and depends on:
    • Task requirements
    • User familiarity with task (automatic or controlled)
    • Type of information (verbal or image)
    • Heuristics
chapter 3 hip17
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Memory and Processing
    • The role of memory is critical and must be examined
    • Working memory
      • Limited capacity and retention time
      • Stores both images and verbal information (text)
      • Task complexity is related to forgetting and interference
      • Order is important in verbal storage
      • Rehearsal can increase remembrance
    • Working memory interacts with long-term memory
chapter 3 hip18
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Long-term memory
    • Is episodic(direct memory) or semantic(meanings)
    • Individual differences come into play (age for example, can negatively impact memory capacity)
  • Organizing Memory
    • Schemata (high order cognitive structures such as scripts)
    • Metaphors (related to an already familiar concept, e.g., desk top as a metaphor for RAM)
chapter 3 hip19
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • More organizing mechanisms
    • Mental model – mental representation
    • Heuristics – short cuts or rules of thumb (e.g., boys are more athletic than girls is a judgment by representativeness and may lead to erroneous conclusions)
chapter 3 hip20
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Principles of HIP and Memory
    • Different combinations of tasks and memory will trigger different cognitive processors
    • In simple tasks, performance (accuracy and speed) depends on heuristic processes and episodes
    • Complex tasks can use schemata (mental models, heuristics, metaphors) to increase performance
    • Unfamiliar tasks require the creation of new schemata which in turn slows down the performance
chapter 3 hip21
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • More principles
    • Heuristics is based on the salient (meaningful) task features
      • If the salient features provide a clear task structure then performance will be improved
      • Use familiar labels on screens
  • HIP in context
    • Context is essential to comprehension
    • Immediate context (what user was doing before looking at the current screen
    • Distant context (in which the task occurs (like choosing the right investment portfolio)
chapter 3 hip22
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Guiding principles of context
    • Context must be maintained during an interactive session
    • Stick with one mental model or metaphor
    • Continuity between screens helps maintain context
    • Figure 3.5 shows the Block Interaction Model of Morton, Barnard, and Hammond (1979) and helps explain how different sources of knowledge interact to affect the context of work

Figure 3.5 Block Interaction Model by

Morton, Banner, & Hammond, 1979

Knowledge of the

Natural Language

Knowledge of the context

Knowledge of the domain

Knowledge of the Version

Knowledge of the process, problem-solving and mechanism

Knowledge of the


Knowledge of the Context

bound to the system

Knowledge of the computer




Knowledge of the actions

of the system

chapter 3 hip24
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Coding and Retrieving
    • Coding (prior to storage)
    • Retrieval (from memory)
    • Observations
      • The more active you are in generating information items, the better your recall
      • Pictures are easier to recall than words
      • Recall “in context” is easier than “out of context”
      • Complex patterns are more difficult to recall than simple
      • Clues stored at the time of coding make recall easier
      • Aging reduces memory capacity
chapter 3 hip25
Chapter 3 - HIP
  • Conclusions
    • Models help our understanding of HIP (
    • Performance is a function of cognitive management, memory, processing, attention, and comprehension
    • Performance is speed and accuracy
    • We can use schemata to organize knowledge (mental models, metaphors, heuristics)
    • Comprehension is sensitive to context