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The Potential for Human-Computer Interaction and Behavioral Science

The Potential for Human-Computer Interaction and Behavioral Science By Kweku Opoku-Agyemang “This article is part of our special issue “Connected State of Mind,” which explores the impact of tech use on our behavior and relationships. View the complete issue here.”

“A few days ago, one of my best friends texted me a joke. It was funny, so a few seconds later I replied with the “laughing-while-crying emoji.” A little yellow smiley face with tear drops perched on its eyes captured exactly what I wanted to convey to my friend. No words needed. If this exchange happened ten years ago, we would have emailed each other. Two decades ago, snail mail. As more of our interactions and experiences are mediated by screens and technology, the way we relate to one another and our world is changing. Posting your favorite emoji may seem superficial, but such reflexes are becoming critical for understanding humanity in the 21st century. Seemingly ubiquitous computer interfaces—on our phones and laptops, not to mention our cars, coffee makers, thermostats, and washing machines—are blurring the lines between our connected and our unconnected selves. And it’s these relationships, between users and their computers, which define the field of human–computer interaction (HCI). HCI is based on the following premise: The more we understand about human behavior, the better we can design computer interfaces that suit people’s needs. For instance, HCI researchers are designing tactile emoticons embedded in the Braille system for individuals with visual impairments. They’re also creating smartphones that can almost read your mind—predicting when and where your finger is about to touch them next…”

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