Influence of Cultural Background on Non-verbal Communication in a Usability Testing Situation
Pradeep G. Yammiyavar, Torkil Clemmensen, Jyoti Kumar


Designers are continuously engaged in elicitation of user data, prior to new product conceptualisation as well as during testing of prototypes. When such user data collection happens across different cultures, data is often collected and analysed ignoring the rich qualitative cues embedded in non-verbal communications such as gestures. In cross-cultural situations, gestures can yield additional information from the user. This paper analyses non verbal kinesthetic cues of users engaged in a verbal protocol based testing situation. To know the extent of influence of the participants’ cultural background on the nature of non-verbal communications such as gestures of the head and hands and to find out if there is an increase of gestures in the vicinity of usability problems, gestures in videos of usability Think- Aloud sessions were analysed using a content analysis software tool. The experiment revealed that there is a rich non-verbal component of communication in the form of gesture-clusters and body movements that happen in an interactive cross-cultural usertesting situation. While some gesture types are culture specific, cultural background itself seems not to influence the rate or pattern of the gestures’ occurrence. Therefore, gestures do hold potential as a source of additional user behavior data in a cross-cultural testing situation.

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