University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Human Computer Interaction seminars > Should I Reply to this Email? Email Response Patterns as a Function of Inbox-level Cues

Should I Reply to this Email? Email Response Patterns as a Function of Inbox-level Cues

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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 a series of in-the-wild experiments conducted in participants’ own inboxes that systematically investigate the factors that influence how people prioritise their emails for processing.

Bio: Anna L Cox is Deputy Director at the UCL Interaction Centre [UCLIC] and Reader in Human-Computer Interaction. Most of her current research falls in the broad area of HCI for Health & Wellbeing: this includes work on reducing human error in the use of medical devices; exploring the ways in which technology can influence digital practices that may affect wellbeing; and immersion and engagement in digital hobbies and their influence on post-work recovery.

This talk is part of the Human Computer Interaction seminars series.

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