Chair of Psychology and Human-Machine Interaction


"Legibility of Visual Displays"

In this research area, we are particularly interested in the legibility of current electronic displays (e.g. LCDs of laptops, tablets or smartphones). The display quality of these devices has continuously been improved within the last years. In one of our recent studies (Köpper, Mayr & Buchner, 2016) we have shown that modern TFT-LCDs have already reached the legibility of high-quality print-outs.

The legibility of electronic displays is influenced, among other factors, by pixel density. In a current study, we have tested whether extremely high-resolution screens can further improve the visual quality (see Mayr, Köpper & Buchner, 2017). The extent to which the text-background contrast ratio can influence information read-out is another focus of our research.

In further studies in this field, we have analyzed the influence of display color and polarity on legibility and visual perception (Mayr & Buchner, 2010). Reading from screen is usually better, that is, more accurate and faster when the text is displayed in dark font against a light background (positive polarity) as compared with the representation of light font against a dark background (negative polarity). In a series of studies, we investigated the causes of this so-called "polarity effect" (Buchner, Mayr & Brandt, 2009; Piepenbrock, Mayr & Buchner, 2014a, b; Piepenbrock, Mayr, Mund & Buchner, 2013). Ongoing research examines whether age-related changes in the eye (senile cataract) should lead to differential recommendations in display design.

In our studies, we use behavioral performance measures (e.g. reading speed and reading accuracy), ratings of subjective wellbeing as well as pupillometry to analyze the reading process.

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Susanne Mayr

“Tool-supported Emotion Recognition and Lie Detection”

Deciding whether a statement is true or false plays a major role in various disciplines, for example in court, where true statements must be distinguished from false, made-up or distorted ones. Existing research focuses on different aspects of lying: The individual's ability to lie and deceive, the ability to detect lies and deception, as well as the verbal and nonverbal cues that differentiate true from false narrations. Human lie recognition performance tends to be rather low, that is, only marginally better than random guessing. While there is evidence suggesting that discrimination training and the use of standardized procedures may improve recognition rates, the question arises whether technological approaches, such as automated facial emotion recognition applications, may support and improve human lie detection performance.

In our studies we focus on the psychological aspects of technological approaches in lie detection as well as questions concerning their practical use. Currently our focus lies on technologically aided discrimination of true and false narrations made by children.

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Susanne Mayr und Robert Luzsa

„Selectivity In Use Of Online Media: Psychological Effects and Influences“

Selective media use describes the tendency to prefer certain media contents to others. From a scientific and also societal point of view it is especially important to understand the selective use of online media, given the discrepancy between a virtually unlimited amount of available online information and a very limited individual capacity to perceive and process this information.

Moreover, online media often comprise additional technical and social cues – such as “likes”, user comments, personal recommendations via contacts in social media platforms, visual design features conveying high or low credibility – that may influence the evaluation and selection of contents. Does the need for selectivity combined with the occurrence of certain cues give way to the emergence of so-called “echo chambers” in which similar opinions are continually shared, echoed, and perhaps amplified and whose members overestimate support for their opinions and attitudes? Or do “likes”, comments, and social recommendations lead to a diversification of information retrieval and consumption due to the confrontation with alternative perspectives? How do content features, technological characteristics, and personal traits like cognitive style, ambiguity tolerance or usage behavior interact?

We address these and related questions of "being online" from a psychological perspective. We build upon theories and empirical findings of media psychology as well as on cognitive psychology and the human-machine interaction tradition, and focus on cognitive as well as on emotional and motivational aspects.

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Robert Luzsa

„Action Control in the Acoustic Modality"

In this area of research, we investigate (1) whether and, if so, to what extend irrelevant acoustic stimuli (so-called "distractors") are processed, and (2) how the cognitive system enables goal-directed action in the presence of these distractors.

We mainly focus on the question which attentional and short-term memory mechanisms contribute to successful action. To this end, we mainly utilise the negative priming phenomenon which denotes slowed-down responding to a previously ignored object as compared with a new stimulus. Following the episodic retrieval model of negative priming, it is assumed that a "do not respond“-tag is attached to the ignored object which is then retrieved if the previous distractor is used as a target stimulus in the current trial. Impaired responding to previously ignored stimuli is therefore attributed to the conflict between the current task requirement ("respond to the object") and retrieved information ("do not respond to the object"). Previous research from our group shows that the retrieval of the previously executed response to the former target is also a source of a response conflict, contributing to the negative priming effect.

Moreover, our research is concerned with the processing of spatial distractors in the auditory modality. The main questions are (1) whether and, if so, how the locations of ignored sounds are processed (and possibly recalled), and (2) whether responses are (automatically) activated by irrelevant spatial sounds. Our previous results from auditory versions of the spatial negative priming paradigm show that, in contrast to typical findings from the visual modality, responding to target sound at previously ignored locations is not generally impaired. Instead, location and identity information of ignored sounds seems to be integrated into so-called "object files“.

Responding to the location of previously ignored sounds is only slowed down if a single object feature–either the identity or the location–changes between consecutive presentations. However, recent studies with head movements as a natural responses to spatial sounds show that responses to irrelevant spatial stimuli (i.e., head movements toward the location of distractor sounds) are prepared and presumably inhibited. This suggests that the naturalness of the required response is critical to whether responses to irrelevant sounds are activated and subsequently inhibited. On the basis of there initial findings, our current research efforts aim to further investigate the involvement of inhibition as a mechanism of control in acoustic modality.

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Malte Möller und Susanne Mayr