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Title: Gender differences in navigation dialogues with computer systems
Author: Koulouri, Theodora
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2013
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Gender is among the most influential of the factors underlying differences in spatial abilities, human communication and interactions with and through computers. Past research has offered important insights into gender differences in navigation and language use. Yet, given the multidimensionality of these domains, many issues remain contentious while others unexplored. Moreover, having been derived from non-interactive, and often artificial, studies, the generalisability of this research to interactive contexts of use, particularly in the practical domain of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), may be problematic. At the same time, little is known about how gender strategies, behaviours and preferences interact with the features of technology in various domains of HCI, including collaborative systems and systems with natural language interfaces. Targeting these knowledge gaps, the thesis aims to address the central question of how gender differences emerge and operate in spatial navigation dialogues with computer systems. To this end, an empirical study is undertaken, in which, mixed-gender and same-gender pairs communicate to complete an urban navigation task, with one of the participants being under the impression that he/she interacts with a robot. Performance and dialogue data were collected using a custom system that supported synchronous navigation and communication between the user and the robot. Based on this empirical data, the thesis describes the key role of the interaction of gender in navigation performance and communication processes, which outweighed the effect of individual gender, moderating gender differences and reversing predicted patterns of performance and language use. This thesis has produced several contributions; theoretical, methodological and practical. From a theoretical perspective, it offers novel findings in gender differences in navigation and communication. The methodological contribution concerns the successful application of dialogue as a naturalistic, and yet experimentally sound, research paradigm to study gender and spatial language. The practical contributions include concrete design guidelines for natural language systems and implications for the development of gender-neutral interfaces in specific domains of HCI.
Supervisor: Lauria, S.; Macredie, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Human-robot interaction ; Dialogue systems ; Human factors ; Visual information ; Language adaptation