Interactive Tools on Websites Influenced by Gender, Personality
A recent study published by Penn State examined how much personality comes into play when interacting online. Factors such as being extroverted, introverted, gender, and more, help determine your online browsing behavior.
According to the study, for extroverted women, Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) tools helped drive certain websites to be more interactive. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), on the other hand, was more prevalent among male extroverts who preferred to directly interact with the computer.
S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects Research in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, said, “When you go to a website – for example, the Google search engine – you’re essentially engaging in HCI, which is different from CMC, which is when you’re communicating with other humans through computer technology. When we talk about HCI here, it’s really about the degree to which the system or the machine allows us to interact with it, and it includes everything from how we swipe and tap on our mobile devices, to how we try to access different information through links on a website. When we talk about CMC, it is about the tools to chat with somebody else, like a customer service agent through an online portal, or when we’re having a video chat via Zoom, for example.”
An imperative aspect of creating positive user experiences is knowing who your web visitors are, along with what engages them. Sundar said, “These are actually quite important business decisions, because they cost a lot of money and have a lot of backend consequences.”
People who are extroverted in real life are also somewhat outgoing when it comes to virtual interactions, according to the paper.
Yan Huang, assistant professor of integrated strategic communication in the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston, and first author of the report, said, “Our findings largely supported the hypothesis that as people’s level of extroversion goes up, they’re more likely to recognize the interactive potential of the site, no matter if it’s communicating with the machine, or using the computer to talk to other people, but gender also makes a difference here. What we saw was that extroversion has slightly different effects for men compared to women, in terms of the types of interactivity that they appreciate more.”
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