If Not Now, When?: The Effects of Interruption at Different Moments Within Task Execution

Apr 25, 2004

User attention is a scarce resource, and users are susceptible to interruption overload. Systems do not reason about the effects of interrupting a user during a task sequence. In this study, we measure effects of interrupting a user at different moments within task execution in terms of task performance, emotional state, and social attribution. Task models were developed using event perception techniques, and the resulting models were used to identify interruption timings based on a user’s predicted cognitive load. Our results show that different interruption moments have different impacts on user emotional state and positive social attribution, and suggest that a system could enable a user to maintain a high level of awareness while mitigating the disruptive effects of interruption. We discuss implications of these results for the design of an attention manager.

  • Piotr D. Adamczyk
  • Brian P. Bailey

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