Despite the clear benefits that social connection offers to well-being, strangers in close physical proximity regularly ignore each other due to their tendency to underestimate the positive consequences of social connection. In a between-subjects study (N = 49 pairs, 98 participants), we investigated the effectiveness of a humanoid robot, a computer screen, and a poster at stimulating meaningful, face-to- face conversations between two strangers by posing progressively deeper questions. We found that the humanoid robot facilitator was able to elicit the greatest compliance with the deep conversation questions. Additionally, participants in conversations facilitated by either the humanoid robot or the computer screen reported greater happiness and connection to their conversation partner than those in conversations facilitated by a poster. These results suggest that technology-enabled conversation facilitators can be useful in breaking the ice between strangers, ultimately helping them develop closer connections through face-to-face conversations and thereby enhance their overall well-being.
Interacting with strangers can be beneficial but also challenging. Fortunately, these challenges can lead to design opportunities. In this paper, we present the design and evaluation of a socio-spatial interface, SocialStools, that leverages the human propensity for embodied interaction to foster togetherness between strangers. SocialStools is an installation of three responsive stools on caster wheels that generate sound and imagery in the near environment as three strangers sit on them, move them, and rotate them relative to each other. In our study with 12 groups of three strangers, we found a sense of togetherness emerged through interaction, evidenced by different patterns of socio-spatial movements, verbal communication, non-verbal behavior, and interview responses. We present our findings, articulate reasons for the cultivation of togetherness, consider the unique social affordances of our spatial interface in shifting attention during interpersonal communication, and provide design implications. This research contributes insights toward designing cyber-physical interfaces that foster interaction and togetherness among strangers at a time when cultivating togetherness is especially critical.
When receiving text messages from unacquainted colleagues in fully remote workplaces, insufficient mutual understanding and limited social cues can lead people to misinterpret the tone of the message and further influence their impression of remote colleagues. Emojis have been commonly used for supporting expressive communication; however, people seldom use emojis before they become acquainted with each other. Hence, we explored how changing facial expressions in profile pictures could be an alternative channel to communicate socio-emotional cues. By conducting an online controlled experiment with 186 participants, we established that changing facial expressions of profile pictures can influence the impression of the message receivers toward the sender and the message valence when receiving neutral messages. Furthermore, presenting incongruent profile pictures to positive messages negatively affected the interpretation of the message valence, but did not have much effect on negative messages. We discuss the implications of affective profile pictures in supporting text-based communication.
In Community-Based Question Answering (CQA) platforms, people can participate in discussions about non-factoid topics by marking their stances, providing premises, or arguing for the opinions they support, which forms “collective arguments”. The sustainable development of collective arguments relies on a big contributor base, yet most of the frequent CQA users are lurkers who seldom speak out. With a formative study, we identified detailed obstacles preventing lurkers from contributing to collective arguments. We consequently designed a processing pipeline for extracting and summarizing augmentative elements from question threads. Based on this we built CoArgue, a tool with navigation and chatbot features to support CQA lurkers’ motivation and ability in making contributions. Through a within-subject study (N=24), we found that, compared to a Quora-like baseline, participants perceived CoArgue as significantly more useful in enhancing their motivation and ability to join collective arguments and found the experience to be more engaging and productive.
Livestreamer-moderated matchmaking has gained wide popularity among the elderly population in China. Compared to algorithm-mediated online dating, it is characterized by (1) the mediation of matchmakers in a synchronous virtual environment and (2) the natural development of livestreaming-based matchmaking communities. Nonetheless, how these new features influence single seniors' match-seeking remains unknown. To fill this research gap, we conduct a qualitative study consisting of observations and semi-structured interviews with 6 livestreaming matchmakers and 12 senior match-seekers (age: 50-70). We uncover matchmakers' mediation roles during and beyond livestreaming to facilitate seniors' match-seeking, and their additional duties to enhance seniors' safety in this process. Livestreaming-based matchmaking communities afford multiple important values for single seniors to acquire companionship and help in seeking late-life love. We unpack the perceived benefits and challenges of livestreamer-moderated matchmaking, and discuss how to support single seniors' match-seeking in an accessible, safe, and convenient manner.
Recent technological advances are enabling HCI researchers to explore interaction possibilities for remote XR collaboration using high-fidelity reconstructions of physical activity spaces. However, creating these reconstructions often lacks user involvement with an overt focus on capturing sensory context that does not necessarily augment an informal social experience. This work seeks to understand social context that can be important for reconstruction to enable XR applications for informal instructional scenarios. Our study involved the evaluation of an XR remote guidance prototype by 8 intergenerational groups of closely related gardeners using reconstructions of personally meaningful spaces in their gardens. Our findings contextualize physical objects and areas with various motivations related to gardening and detail perceptions of XR that might affect the use of reconstructions for remote interaction. We discuss implications for user involvement to create reconstructions that better translate real-world experience, encourage reflection, incorporate privacy considerations, and preserve shared experiences with XR as a medium for informal intergenerational activities.