Apparency of Contingencies in Pull Down Menus

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1998-10-15

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In many computer interfaces the underlying structures and contingencies are often hidden from the user's view. Users high in Spatial Visualization Ability (SVA) are able to quickly determine and manage the contingencies of these relationships and are not severely affected by this problem. Low SVA users, however, have difficulty visualizing these contingencies and often get lost. We examined the performance of 160 undergraduate students to determine whether revealing hidden contingencies through visual cues would facilitate low SVA users enabling them to approach the level of performance of high SVA users on a computerized path-finding task. It was found that using color and displaying paths improved performance, however, there is no indication that it is more beneficial to low than high SVA users. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-97-43)

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