Inter-personal awareness and synchronization: Assessing the value of communication technologies

Leon Watts, Andrew Monk, Owen Daly-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


How may we discriminate between the multitude of point-to-point communication facilities currently available? To take just one aspect of communication, how can we assess the fluency of coordination that results from using some communication technology? This paper describes two groups of measures with this general purpose. The measures described have been devised to be used in a particular approach to evaluation for the design of communication systems that borrows from experimental and ethnographic methods. This approach is promoted as a practical and rigorous way of assessing design alternatives. The first group of measures are subjective ratings that assess someone's awareness of the attentional status of their conversational partner, such awareness is necessary for the successful coordination of conversation. The rating scales are shown to be sensitive in that they distinguish between video and audio mediated conversation in a short experiment. The second group are measures derived from video records of communicative behaviour using "activity set" analysis. This can be used to assess coordination in communication directly. An activity set is a mutually exclusive and exhaustive set of behavioural states. A publicly available tool, Action Recorder, makes it possible to score the tapes in near real time. "Simple statistics" are extracted from a single activity set, examples are: the proportion of time spent looking towards the video monitor and the average duration of these glances. "Contingent statistics" are extracted from two or more activity sets, for example, the proportion of time both members of a pair are looking towards their video monitors. A way of assessing the synchronization evident in two people's behaviour is presented that makes use of these contingent statistics. Inter-observer reliabilities are given for all the measures generated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-873
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


Dive into the research topics of 'Inter-personal awareness and synchronization: Assessing the value of communication technologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this