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Feb. 3, 2023

E272 - How does culture affect HCI?

This week on the show, we talk about Culture, cognition, and human-computer interaction. We also answer some questions from the community about how to get over bad interviews, alternate ways to think about usability methodology, and an update on how to use ChatGPT in Human Factors Engineering, HCI, and UX.

Check out the latest from our sister podcast - 1202 The Human Factors Podcast -on Reflections on Human Factors applications - An interview with Steven Shorrock:


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Welcome to Human Factors Cast, your weekly podcast for human factors psychology and design.



Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Human Factors Cast. This is episode 272. Nice palindromic quality to that number. We're recording this live on February 2, 2023rd. I'm your host, Nick Rome. I'm joined today by Mr. Barry Kirby. Hello and good evening. And we also have Heidi Mirzad. Hi. Wow. I was very soft spoken. I'm sure we'll get more strongly spoken towards the end of the show, but this week we have a talk show all about culture, cognition, human computer interaction. We'll also be taking some questions from the community about how to get over bad interviews, specifically with users, alternate ways to think about usability methodology, and an update for how to use chat GPT in human Factors, engineering, HCI, and UX. But first, we got some programming notes for you all. Just really quick, I want you all to be aware of. If you're interested in podcasting or working with Human Factors professionals, join the lab. I just want to say that at the top, sometimes we bury it in a commercial down the line. But if you are interested in any of those things, want to help volunteer for the lab, we have a lot of stuff that we want to do behind the scenes, so please let us know if you're interested in any of that. Barry, I was inspired by your little intro on the latest episode of Twelve Two. You want to tell us about that? Yes, on Twelve Two, we finally got the first interview down and it's out there. It wouldn't have been out there quite as well if Nick hadn't stepped in and sorted out the audio. So my very public thanks to you, Nick, for making the quality of that even better, what it was. So I interviewed Steven Chorick, and Stephen Sharick is one of these guys. He's an author, he's a lecturer, editor. He has many, many hats. But he basically gave us an overview of his career and give us a really candid reflection over some of the stories or some of the interactions that he's had throughout his career. And he gave us a real insight into his thoughts on where we've been as a practice and where he sees us going in the future. So I was really grateful for his time, and we've even decided to get some of the shorts out early for this one as well. So, yeah, get yourself over to Twelve or and have a listen or watch a bit on YouTube. It was a great listen. I'm really happy with that episode. All right, well, hey, we know why you're all here. You're here for the news, so let's get into it.



That's right. This is part of the show all about human Factors news. Barry, what is the story this week? So the story this week is all about culture, cognition, and human computer interaction. So recently, UX collective put out an article on the importance of considering culture in the design of technology. The article details that culture as a set of beliefs, values and practices plays a significant role in shaping human behavior and cognition. It impacts our cognitive processes, emotions, attention and perception as well as our beliefs and values. The language we speak and the cultural background we have can influence the way we interact with technology and the way we perceive it. The concept of cultural affordances, where the cultural background of a user influences their perception and use of technology is one of the most important ways in which culture influences design in HCI. Additionally, nonverbal cues such as gestures and body language, which can vary across cultures, can also affect the way that people interact with technology. It's important for human practice practitioners to take these cultural differences into account to design effective and user friendly technology that can benefit a wider range of users. So Heidi, what are your thoughts on our ability to use culture in the way that we design our HGI? I think it's a great topic, super interesting that's it moving on. But I actually had to think about that for a second because I thought it was something more different than at first because I was like, well, it's a topic we already are aware of, and then read through it and then realized it is literally what we face also in medical device development and design. Because when we design products, we have to design them for different geographies. So we have to take into account different perceptions, different cultures, how they think, how they perceive things. Right. One of the things that always stuck with me was when I was working on specific product that was for the or. And we had to put in a timeline of kind of the surgery and what steps you go through and whatnot and it was a huge discussion amongst the team whether that should go vertical or horizontal because of how people perceive time. Right. And it was then, to be honest, it was one of the first times when I was really confronted with the fact that yes, we do perceive differently. And I realized and learned that day that for instance, western cultures tend to think of time as a horizontal linear and Asian cultures actually eastern, more Asian or towards the south look at it from a vertical. Right. So it was very interesting for me one of those first things. So I think that was over a decade ago. So the cultural differences alone that shape a society every generation also moves on. Right. So thinking of that, it's so many things and it's a topic that I think we don't probably talk enough about because we just automatically adapt to every update, to every progress we make. Oh, this is a new technology, we got to adapt so we learn and move on. The iPhone isn't new to us anymore. But if we think about it, it hasn't been around for an entire generation yet, right? So it's one of those things where I think it is so much more nuanced than we think it is, and it has so many more implications than we actually more commonly talk about. But on the other side, it also should be one of the main factors that you talk about when you design things. So there's a lot of things that come together and there's funny little things. We can think of examples. Right. One of the things is that if you're a genetics or an older and you do little videos for Instagram or Twitter or whatever TikTok, as you can see, I'm super social savvy. You can see them. You can see them moving their hand away and pausing because they actually need the visual reference that they're on. They're not used to talking to a video. And then when you look at millennials in the years after, they instantly start talking. So there's so much of behavior and culture and norms and beliefs that go into it that I think it should be one of the main things you think about when you actually start going into the design concept phase of things. What do you think, Nick? Is it too general? No, I think just my initial thoughts here. I don't know. It just seems like one of those no dust stories to me. Yes, take culture into consideration when we design things, and that's very reductive to think about it that way. And I'm really appreciative of pieces like this, that detail just everything that goes into our concept of what culture is. Because if you look at this article, they talk about all these different aspects from diversity to the different cultural models, as well as sort of the design guidelines even used in some of these cultural dimensions. And it's a really good look at exactly what types of things we're looking at when it comes to designing for different cultures or designing for multiple cultures to use something collectively. And I just think this is a great piece. So thank you, everyone, for picking the story. I'm really excited to talk about it tonight. Barry, what are your initial thoughts here? Yeah, I think it is one of these things that it's almost the well, yeah, of course we do that. We brilliant professionals out and we so we do. But the reality is we don't think as you alluded to. We don't do it in the way that we think we think we do it. But do we really? And that's why I think we need to explore tonight. Globalization has really now slapped this in our faces. The ability for the Internet, for the communications, really sort of shows. And you can see that through social media, the way that messaging happens through social media. You can see the differences in Western culture and Eastern culture if you really analyze the language and what people do. It can give you a real insight into in a way that we've just never had before. For design specifically, I think when we're designing for different cultures and I think this is particularly non safety critical areas because I think safety critical areas tend to coalesce around western ideals. So an example I'll use is air traffic control. Air traffic control uses English as the basic language and you have to use English all the way through isn't necessarily always but that's the common norm. And so we tend to drift towards western culture in that way. But when you're doing non safety critical things, you need to design for different cultures in order to get success. But the thing I find really interesting is at the moment we and I think we'll probably talk about it more detail culture. We largely based on geography. We sort of talked a bit about that already. But I find the application of culture particularly subculture really interesting because subculture, once you get there, it's almost like a massive can of worms because there's so many different types of diverse subcultures that are either intersecting or diverging and completely not respective of don't respect geographic boundaries or any other sort of boundaries at all. I find that absolutely fascinating. So yeah, I think that's great. Yeah, so I don't know where we want to go with the discussion here. There's a lot of different ways in which we could tackle this. I think the thing that I maybe want to take a look at here first is just in the perception of these cultural differences in technology in general. Right? I mean, how do different cultures view what is their perception of technology? Because when you look at that broad global scale there's going to be different ideas of what technology is and isn't depending on each of these cultures. I don't have a whole lot of good examples but just at a high level then there's also sort of the mental models of each of those cultures and how those mental models impact the way that we design those interfaces for those folks. And maybe Heidi, you can bring up some of those examples that you are bringing up in Medtech as one of those things that like how do mental models differ across cultures? Right? And then sort of the third part of this high level question is the nonverbal cues, right? So how do they perceive it? What mental models do they have and what nonverbal cues are impacting the use of that technology? So I don't know. I wanted to bring that up. Opening up a can of worms here. Where do you guys want to go?



I said just throw it out there. The biggest example that I had that was thrown in my face through the pandemic was around pulse oximeters. So the idea that we wanted to look at blood oxygen levels and they were using infrared technologies to do that because we didn't have enough oximeters to go around. So people were creating new technologies to be able to get quick readouts to understand what people's oxygen saturation rates were. So that was great, people coming up with all sorts of ideas, but then they tested them. Fantastic. And then they were being used and they just got rolled out quite strongly, almost ubiquitously. But then what they were finding is people with darker skin tones were dying at a higher rate than people with whiter skin. And it took a bit of time, but then they realized that this using the technology they were doing was actually because the hand taking into account skin tone when they were designing it, that the readings they were getting were artificially higher than what they actually were. So people who they thought had a blood oxygen level of say, 95%, 98% actually had it around the rate is and so weren't getting enough oxygen in the blood and that was around. So basically when the designers piece of of technology tested it on effectively white people and hadn't done any broader testing, rolled it out and hadn't taken into account their physical differences in what was going on. So I thought that was something that really threw up this sort of how we deal with some of this almost straight away. Yeah, so that's a good example. Another good example would be sort of internationalizing a product. So if you think about anybody in big tech, right, they have to have their software to be used in multiple different languages and different languages have different rules. And so like one example of even just something so simple is in multiple countries other than the Western countries, they use the comma as a decimal point in numerical representation. And so right there you have an example where we can't just put a dot there because it's not going to be easily understood across everyone. You have to adapt the system for each of those languages or create something that's universal. Heidi that reminds me of my first attempts to write checks in this country with the decimal coming from growing up in Germany where we do use the decimal very differently and then realizing I was writing checks for quite the sums over here.



When you were doing that, how was that pointed out to you, what you were doing? Was it the bank? We'll find out the hard way. Yeah, quite a few checks. Well, thankfully the lady at the counter was very helpful and looked at me and said, MIM, I think. Well, back then I was still a miss. I don't think he meant to write it for this amount. And I'm like, what? And she's like, well, it's so and so. And I'm like, well, it's not at one point she's like, no, it's not a point. I'm like, yeah, it is. And she's like, no, it's a comma. I'm like, yeah, but it's a point. But the discussion went back and forth and back and forth. And those discussions are actually just like the article mentions. Article goes a little into language, right? And the differences in how we view things, especially with masculinity and femininity and objects, right, which is similarly touches a lot of things when you look at things and when you interact with things, right. It's not just the comma. I mean, it's three years it took me to convert from the date, the month before the day in the year. Yeah, because that's just wrong. I'll just point that out now. You and I, we know it's wrong. Look, here's the thing. I've actually started implementing changes after reading this article because of this, right? So in our patreon and our news roundups that we do every week, short plug for that. But we used to put the date in the correct US format, right? And then since reading this article and waking up a little bit no, not really, but I've always been aware of this standardized way of presenting the information. It's not in my conscience because that's not who I'm designing for. And so I reformatted the way that we do them to be date and then three letter month and then full year. So that way it's easily understood that's an international standard of representing date. So that way it doesn't get confused when you have just six numbers versus two numbers, three letters and four numbers at the end. It's another example. And that's how it signed all my contract. So it was ten years ago. I tried and I tried that way, and it was never going to go anywhere. So I knew this is pointless, is a moot point. And so I started doing the I do the number, then I do dash, and then I do the three letter month and then I do the year. But I do the full year. Not just the two endings, the full year. And I also, if it's the fourth or the first or whatever, I do zero one, right? So I do the full gambit, right? And I used to get tea so much for that. Like oh, you Europeans. And I was like, that's not European. That's actually international standard because you guys write a difference. So we try to accommodate in the sense of having the international way so we can all understand the date, right? Those are small things, but they impact your life. Think about this. And then me always, of course, bringing it back to the medical environment, think about that impact. Writing a date wrong when it comes to medication, writing the volume of a drug, wrong when it comes to the point in the decimal. All these little things that we culturally just do differently and then implementing them in your day to day life. Now, throw technology, and that added complexity of well, technology always leaves doors open for human error, right? Then you almost have a little fire going like a little tiny, tiny flame going and then you throw one wrong thing on it and it's boom. And so I think about all the things when I was in school and we talked about all the major catastrophes, right? We went human. I had a class that was in regards to safety, obviously, but human factors. And we read some really cool books. I had a really cool professor and he always chose just the coolest books and we would discuss the coolest cases. But these are very commonly known if you work in the field of human factors. Everybody knows Three Mile Island, right? Everybody knows everybody knows the Swiss cheese, the reasons model, right? Like how a couple of events lead to catastrophe. Like, we all know these things, but then to see them in actual use cases, actual existing events, things that actually happen, and you walk through them step by step. There are so many that are influenced by cultural differences, perceptional differences, right? Just language, interpretation, authority, social, societal norms, respect who is allowed to speak up, who isn't allowed to speak up. What is interpreted on the screen, if it's on this side versus whether it's on the left or on the right, where do you start to look? I mean, thinking about I'm Iranian and think about how we read the other way, right? So what do you put where is the most important piece of information in your screen? If you have one culture looking from this side to this side and the other culture from that side to that side, right. Do you start in the middle? Alling so there's a lot of things where yeah, of course, social media and there's things like how we tend to look at things masculine or feminine when it comes to object. Then we interpret little logos and icons differently and stuff like that. But then there's the huge impact, and that is things that can actually affect people's lives, imminent danger events. Right. So I think for it being such a huge part of design and such a huge part of our lives, it is such a little topic in most conversations. And I think that's what you kind of meant, Barry, right. With the fact that we don't for it being such a magnitude of pot stirring possibilities. We don't talk about it enough. Well, I find it really interesting because you tend to design for the group you're designing for. Right? So if I'm designing mostly for the military, then I've got my military cohort it is Western, it is UK mostly, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So I've got no need to think about true translation to other cultures or take other cultures into account. But this was bought into sharp realization for me, probably. I think it was about six years ago, I did a project looking at social media and how culture comes across through social media and how culture comes through technologies. I think this work worth just bringing in some of Hofstadter's work and just as a really quick counter through it, the hostetter work basically looked at all the different countries around the world and grouped them into six main areas, which I think is interesting and something we could probably talk about in depth, but probably on another time. But there was six main scores that they come up with for each country and basically they've categorized each country as to, especially on the masculine feminine scale. So is it a more of a masculine country or more of a feminine country? Are the residents more affinity, have more affinity that way? What's their long term outlook? Are they looking for big wins tomorrow or they're looking for big wins in 30, 60, 90 years time? How individualistic do they feel? Do they talk about themselves or do they talk about a group themselves? Do they believe the country first or themselves first? They're restraint. How contained? Are they going to be fit to outbursts or are they going to be sit there simmering quietly in the background without letting that go? What's their risk appetite, their uncertainty? Are they willing to take risks or do they just not like any uncertainty and they want to know what's going to go on basically risk averse? And what is what they call the power distance, which is how close are they to the people running the country from your general populace? Is there a huge convoluted hierarchy or are you sort of one, two, three steps removed? And they found that each country has its own unique makeup of these six measures and you can actually map them and then you can then use that to get a fairly decent understanding as a starting point of what type of culture you're dealing with. If you then want to take a product and launch it into that country and you can. I mean, the biggest realization for me was if you're wanting to get a message across in the western world, we tend to be quite blunt and abrasive. If you want to get a message across, you put everything in the message. If you want to sell blue bananas on the corner of the street, you'll say, I'm selling blue bananas on the corner of the street. Whereas in eastern culture you will go more around the houses. You don't want to be so rude as to tell somebody exactly what it is that you want to tell them. You will describe around the message of what it is that you're trying to do and use more generalistic language to get to the point because otherwise it would just be rude. Therefore, if you are modern that's why I think they see westerners generally as quite brush and abrasive and we sort of perceive the eastern cultures as much more honoring people and very around ceremonial and things like that. So I think that it's not the beyond the end all there are issues and discussions to be had around the hospital's work, but I think it's a really good the books are a really good read to give you an understanding of, for me, for taking a product and how to globalize it. Because if you start looking at this sort of thing and then start trying to apply some of that stuff, it's really useful. I got a question for you guys, and this is along the same lines of thinking about designing for cultural diversity. Can a lack of thinking about cultural diversity result in discrimination or exclusion? Why or why not? I'm of the opinion that it can. But I want to hear your opinions on this. I mean, if we if we're going to go there I wasn't sure if we wanted to go there, but what about the my old friend, right, facial recognition? What about the fact that that software doesn't have the capability to actually make the fine nuances in people with darker skins, right? So a lot of misidentification with that software, right? A lot of false if that goes out, false arrests, false accusations, false whatever, imprisonment, people being punished, people possibly being murdered for it, right? Where we go, like the sheer fact that we are 2023 and we have a software where people literally did not think about that factor is, first of all, for me, mind boggling. Second of all, well, let's just say it how it is. How can that happen? How can that literally still happen? We are so aware of that cultural no, cult these cultural differences and that we all not just cultural, but that we all have different, possibly skin colors, different sizes of eyes, different heights, different face structures, right, depending on how is that still happening. And the fact that we I say it as a humankind, we did not take that into account when making such dangerous software technology tools that we're going to use to target people with. That is very troublesome to me. Very troublesome to me. And I think that kind of alludes to the same thing with a pulse oximeter, right? How were those designed? Not taking into account darker skin tones or not even darker skin tones, but different skin tones. Right. So that alone, that is a conversation in itself. But the fact that these guidelines or these norms and designing things like that, we don't have something where you go to and say, okay, these are 12345 steps. Whatever we go through to the gamut, right. That isn't done because it is a topic that is not often commonly discussed. Because it's like nick, was it you that say kind of like duh, like, of course we think about these things. So it's kind of almost assumed. So I care to venture the questionnaire is it because we think we already thought about it, that we don't bring it up? Is that another perceptional issue that we have with this that we think somebody, of course, must have thought of this because DA right, but then it didn't happen. It could be. I do want to jump in, though, because I'm noticing a tendency I'm not calling either of you out, but you've both done it tonight, that there's a tendency to conflate culture and skin tone. And that is something that I think I just want to point out. The author of this article, I just did a couple of searches for key terms. Not once do they mention race. Not once do they mention racial skin color. None of these things are mentioned in the article. And I think that was absolutely intentional. I just want to be clear that when we're talking about culture, we're talking about sort of the beliefs that somebody holds not necessarily of the color of their skin. Yes, it can correlate, it can match up depending on geographic region. But I do want to mention that in the Oximeter example, that's a skin color. That's a racial bias type of thing. In the facial recognition, there's absolutely algorithmic bias towards those darker skin tones. So I do want to bring that up. I want to call you both out on that. I got to interject there, though, because isn't it cultural in some cultural cultures to not think of that group?



I would care to say, okay, maybe in this article, correct. Not in there. But isn't it cultural and a cultural thing in some cultures to not think about certain groups? Yes, that's absolutely true. Yes, maybe it is conflated, but that is a part of it.



So there was another example I was going to use which is slightly more nuanced, but it isn't more nuanced. It's exactly the same thing, but a different way, in the fact that in a Western culture, we generally focused around the middle aged white male. And that is even though we don't like it thoroughly brought into the culture. Which is why when the Oximity issue came up during the June COVID, I thought it was really interesting because we test on middle aged white males. The other way that that's happened as well is with Viagra. Viagra is actually more beneficial for women on a whole range of things, but it is only sold as a male performance enhanced drug because that's who they tested it on and they saw the reactions to, and that is purely based in Western culture. But you are right in some respects, and that's why I was quite keen to bring out this idea of hosted room. And what we do, going back to, I guess, the original question that prompted what you said, I think for me, it boils down to a target audience and understanding who it is you're designing for. Because and this is why I made the comment about globalization at the top, because if you are designing literally for within your cultural sphere, the example that Heidi gave around the way we read text. You either read left to right to left or top to bottom, and then you do that. So we would design an interface primarily based for our home market, and you do it left, right, right, left, top, and you'd put your messaging in appropriately to deal with that. It is then the transition, if you then decided to move your target market somewhere else, how you deal with that transition now, you could just turn around and say, well, we've designed it. It's been super successful here in the west. We'll go and launch it in a Middle Eastern country or an Eastern country with no change, and the product will more than likely fail because you haven't done all you'll have done is some sort of language translation, I don't know, maybe run it through some AI to do some change. But you won't have done the same level of design work that we would have done for how I was in the Western culture, where we've done everything left to right centric, top to bottom centric, and put all your important messages where we would know it, and all you have done is change the wording. You wouldn't have done that redesign route, because even when we say we do, we don't have a great appreciation for how other cultures deal with their interfaces. I just want to jump in. Let's just do one more round because we're almost at time. I'd love to sit and have, like, a two, three hour conversation about this because I think it's really important. What we're here for is just opening up that can of worms for the community. So, Heidi, let's do one more round. So give me kind of your final thoughts. You can finish your thought and then do final Thoughts and then Barry, and then we'll wrap it up here and get into the next section. Yeah. To pick up where Barry left off with globalization and switching products from market to market. Right. He's absolutely on the money. That's why products fail. Right. And this isn't just consumer products. This is medical products. I worked on a project for over a year trying to adjust the design of a very simple, straightforward medical product just to fit the American culture because it was first introduced in the European market. But guess what? Health care and cultural differences work. They're different. And the user was using it in a different setting and in a different context. So it was never going to win. It was never going to win. So those are yeah, very impactful. Globalization touches it. But I think as far as my final thoughts go, I think maybe we also worked in Silos for a very long time because we were restricted to different geolocations, different targets, different target groups. And as globalization moves on, I think we have to more and more take into consideration that products aren't necessarily going to have a version for the European market, a version for the asian market, a version for the American market. Right. So we more and more need to kind of reel ourselves back and really look at all the nuances. And I think it is our responsibility as the people, as the experts in the field, I think it is our responsibility to bring that up in every design talk, in every concept phase and every brainstorming. Right. It is us that are ultimately guiding this process. However, I will say it's probably going to come down to the person who is most aware at the table. Because I think, honestly, when I think about your comment, Nick, I'm going to bring it up again. But it is really one of those things where you go DA, of course we're going to think about it and somebody must have thought about it. So I think it's going to be our responsibility to kind of go like, DA, did somebody actually do the DA? Did somebody really think about this? And if not, let's tackle this. Right? And I'm going to say right now also, I think we also need to come with to terms with inmate peace with that some products cannot be marketed to an entire world. They need differences in each country location, culture, or whatnot. There's certain products that are too dangerous to interact with without having the very specific cultural differences in it. Just as a last example, it already starts at yellow, green, red. Right? Red means stop, yellow means wait, green means go. That is not the case for everybody. So I think that's where I would leave it as a final thought. Yeah, we've froze. Yeah. Barry, I think my final thought is barry yeah, I know. For me, it's something that we should be doing. I think we need to be aware of when we should and shouldn't be doing it because there are different types of culture that we need to be thinking about. But I think it's also something you can potentially go over the top with as well. This is why I keep on going back to understanding the scope of what it is that you're trying to do. Your target audience. If you're focusing on a specific target audience and you know that's not going to change, then actually you get a bit of a free pass at that point. But just because we don't talk about geographic cultures doesn't mean we don't necessarily have to understand other cultures. Yeah. For me, my final, I guess points would be to bring up some of the risks of oversimplifying cultures because there can be sort of this train of thought to not necessarily design for each individual culture, but to design for universal use. And doing that, you might actually come out with design that's not truly inclusive and not culturally sensitive in a lot of ways. Right. But I also want to point out that this article, the role of culture in shaping human behavior isn't necessarily as straightforward as the article might suggest. There are plenty of other factors going on here. Upbringing, heidi, you brought up personal experiences, individual differences that could impact our behavior. And so that's also something that we have to think about when we're designing for some of these things. And then also the last piece that I'll mention here is that cultures change over time. I don't know if this article is necessarily keeping that in mind as we start to think about how to design for a culture, because you brought up that framework, Barry, and I think we should take sort of a litmus test or that's not the right word a benchmark every couple of years to kind of see how a culture is changing over time and then start to design for that culture and make those changes appropriately. It's a big, monumental task, but that's why Human Factors is here. So that's where I'll leave it. Thank you to our patrons and everyone for voting on the story this week. And thank you to our friends over at UX Collective for our news story. If you want to follow along, we do post links to the original articles and our weekly roundups in our blog. You can also join us on our discord for more discussion on these stories and much more. We're going to take a quick break and then we'll be back to see what's going on in the Human Factors community right after this. Yes, huge. Thank you, as always, to our patrons. We especially want to thank our Human Factors Cast All Access patrons, Michelle Tripp. Patrons like you truly keep the lights on and the lab going behind the scenes. All your patronage really helps us go. And speaking of Patreon, we usually have the patrons choose the news, but everyone can now choose the news. We had polls up on all our sites, but now we're kind of centralizing everybody to Patreon. If you go to Patreon, whether you're a member or not, we post up the polls. You can select the news story for the week. Of course, we wait our patrons with a little bit more weight there because they support us financially and they determine the direction of the show. But everyone can go and vote on which stories you want us to talk about. In fact, we got some great ones coming up next week. And of course, don't have them up in front of me because that would just make too much sense for me to do, right? So go take a look, see what we have up on our Patreon for our poll, go vote on it and have a little bit of say in what comes out on the show. All right, with that, let's get into this next part of the show we like to call this Came from it Came From. You would think with all this prep that I would actually put that in there. Anyway. All right, this is the part of the show where we search all over the Internet to bring you topics the community is talking about. If you find any of these answers useful, give us a like or a thumbs up or whatever it is, no matter where you're watching or listening, that really helps other people find this content. All right, we got three up tonight. This first one is from the UX Research subreddit. They say, how do you get over the humiliation of a bad research interview? They go, I'm a senior service designer and have conducted hundreds of interviews in the past. Generally speaking, my interviews go pretty well. I tend to get the results I want from them. But this time around, everything went wrong. I didn't properly set the context objectives, didn't build rapport, just bombed it entirely. I felt so awful, like I should know better. And all these were rookie mistakes. Guess my question is, how do you get over it? I still can't sleep thinking about it. I want to reach out to a participant and apologize, but I know this could make it worse. I think I'm just spiraling here. Barry, what is your experience with this? Have you ever had one of these experiences? No, I've never had one. I think I've had plenty. I think it's one of these things, it's a day at the office, isn't it? And some days are just better than others. So the first thing I'll be looking at saying, right, if the interview normally goes well, and they've stated they're normally pretty good at what they do, something must have happened to make this go badly. It could have been something personally, it could have been something around the room, it could have been something about the person they're interviewing. He or she just couldn't get that sort of chemistry. Something just didn't gel right. If you can work out what that was, then that will help you acknowledge that and move on. But I think that's the most important bit is that you just need to move on from it. Bad days in the office happen, and this is just one of them things for a bad day. The only thing I would say about your data, though, is if you've still included that in your data set or your findings, you need to record that you had that bad experience whilst developing that data. Otherwise it will skew what you're doing. You might feel there's still lessons there to incorporate and that's fine, but just make sure you make that as your record. But yeah, it's a day in the office. Move on. Nick, what do you think? Sorry, Heidi. Heidi, what do you think? Didn't matter. So I actually am kind of same along the lines I would like to throw out there. Let's do a little therapy session here. Something that I learned that is the most helpful thing I ever learned is nine out of ten times this person is not thinking about it anymore. It's you thinking about it. This person probably hasn't thought about it for one more second since they walked out of that door. They probably thought, oh, weird, and then moved on. Right. So your thoughts consuming you is about your perception of failure, which clearly indicates that you feel that you made a mistake. So this is about you thinking you made a mistake. This is not about that person. That person is probably almost I'm going to go ahead and 99%, point 99 is not concerned about this anymore. So I would wipe that off my shoulder first, so you can stop feeling guilty about that. Second, I would go through it step by step. Why did this happen? Do it as an expert. You are the researcher. Why did this happen? Find the root cause and if you can, sort it back to you just weren't prepared and things got out of hand that day. We're human, move on. It happens. Right. Lastly, I just recently had an experience that was a brand new one I had never thought I would ever, ever have. Because you can't make that stuff up. Seriously, you can't make it up. And it wasn't me being unprepared. It was worlds colliding. Things happen. This participant came in, shouldn't have been there. They were not in the mental state. They were there. They had some personal matters that happened that they spurted out during the session, but unfortunately too late. We were 45 minutes into a 60 minutes session and all of a sudden the person spurted out that things had happened, got up and said sorry and left. And we sat there baffled, not knowing what happened. The person started almost tearing up as if we had done something, but we had to trace it back, right? Yeah. You're in shock. The first minute, first five minutes, maybe the first five days. And then you realize you go step by step through what happened. And when you realize that some things cannot be controlled, you can let go of it. And one last thing, this is right now, the next study, this will be away. You will sleep us away with the next study. It'll be gone in about a month, depending on how many studies you do a month. I'm sorry.



Yeah. I think the most important thing here is to kind of take a look at the lessons that you can learn from this. Apply it. It's the same kind of reflective steps. Maybe talk with a colleague, see if they have any other thoughts, opinions on it. But really the key thing here is to reframe it. And don't think of it as an opportunity loss. Think of it as an opportunity gain. What can you change in your processes or procedures that will make sure that this doesn't happen next time or that you can relay that to somebody else? I think that's an important skill is to not necessarily look at it as a bad thing, but as an opportunity. And then just in terms of the last point here, if you want to reach out to your participant, yes, that can make it worse, but only reach out to them if you truly think it'll add value to the situation and won't necessarily harm the relationship that you have with them. I think those are the important things. All right, let's get into this next one here. This one is by on the UX Research subreddit contextual inquiry. Is there alternative ways of doing contextual inquiry instead of doing it the traditional interview like way? That's it. Barry, what's the answer to this question? Yes,



we do it all the time within human factors. We tailor we tailor our methods in order to suit what you're doing. Fundamentally, for me, it's about understanding what is it you're trying to get, and does what you're doing pass the sniff test? As in, does it smell right to you that you're actually still keeping true to the methodology? You might have just adapted it to suit your means. Heidi, what do you think? Well, I'm going to be super conservative of all this. I'm going to say no. Unless you have a video set up and you can actually watch the video back. This person has a video diary of doing it, whatever it is, and you can formulate your questions to that because that's what contextual inquiry is all about. Observing something and then modeling your questions to get to the point of what they're doing to go deeper. So if you can do that, great. If not, then do a different method, like pick something else. But don't try to make contextual inquiry something that it isn't. There are so many other things you could be doing. For me, it depends, really. I am maybe alone in my thinking here, but I tend to think of methodology as parts and pieces that we use to address any given situation. And it's okay to adapt for a specific project on hand, given that we're all scientists here. This is some form of experimentation. It may or may not work. And it depends on a lot of factors, like the type of regulations that you might need to go to heidi, for you in the medical world, you might need to have those rigid guidelines around methodology, but for somebody else, it might be, okay, well, we can throw in this component to it. We can do a survey here and there, or modify this thing to get the desired information that we need. And ultimately, that's the thing that's most important, is what's going to get you the information that you need to be able to perform, to be able to make some of those actionable recommendations. So I'm an okay to modify. That's where I stand on that. All right, we got one more here. This is on the user experience. I just got a lot of feedback and said, no, it's not a method, pick a different method. I literally use God and I am for that. All right, we got another one here. This one is from user experience. Subreddit. Can I should I use Chat GPT during a whiteboarding exercise to help with ideation? The context here is that they're interviewing for a senior product designer role. What are your thoughts? Would you look down on this, Barry? I love it. Controversial opinion, but yeah, if you're explaining about why you're doing it, what value it brings and why you think it's a good idea, then I'd be very keen to see it because I've started to use Chutchypt now, experimenting in different ways, having it there, and I've done it this week using it. There was a different head in the room as we were ideating over some stuff, literally on our whiteboards, using it to bounce some of the ideas off and get a different perspective. We had three of us in the room and so that gives us almost like another three heads because all three of us were using it to sort of throw prompt into and then shared the outcomes. That was quite cool. And then, I guess, extending that example, I used it a couple of weeks ago to give me a user in the room. So I asked Chat GPT to be a pilot to give me a pilot's perspective of usability issues within a cockpit. I did this because I wanted to see whether we could do it and I knew the answers, so it was a bit of almost a control scenario. And you know what? He came out with some really good stuff. He came out with all the stuff that I would expect you to come out with and stuff I found. It also gave me some things that I hadn't necessarily thought about before as well, which that was the point. I was like, that's interesting. It also gave me some stuff that I was like, no, that's not an issue for this particular instantiation, that's fine. But I could then go back and question it further on the one thing that situational awareness and things like that. And that was really interesting. So I wouldn't necessarily use the answers it gave me, but it allowed me to test an interview structure. It allowed me to test almost like how I would interrogate a participant in all this sort of stuff. So, yeah, I'm quite fun. So if you were to bring that doubt to me for an interview, I will give you kudos and respect as long as you could justify why. Heidi, what do you think? Would you let them get away with it? It depends. Well, Nick and I were looking up something the other day with respect to human factorism. Well, I asked Nick to ask Chat GPT to literally put together a human factor's plan for a medical product validation study. And while it was right on the money, it also showed me that it is only as smart as we make it. Right. So the link between the interpretation of the step by step instructions, which were right on the money, but the interpretation and the skill to make that realize that and call it into existence by actually executing the activity is still a human thing. So while at first I had to hold my breath and it clutched my pearls and I wasn't sure if I was going to have a job in the next two years, when it then spit out most of it and was done, I realized, yeah, but you still need somebody to execute it. Right. So at the end of the day, yeah, even if it is linked live to the Internet and it can gather all the information from everywhere that ever existed, at the end of the day, you still need the person to make a human cognitive ability come to light by connecting the dots. Right. So I would feel very conflicted because I would feel like the person put no thought into it. And speaking of cultural differences, I come from a culture where I would appreciate your two cent, and if I gave you a task, I didn't give Chat GPT a task. Oh, boy. So we got a yes, we got an emphatic maybe. And I'm sitting over here saying no. So it's a complete mixed bag, I think. Look, using Chat GPT during a whiteboarding exercise, during an interview, it could be bad news, just depending on what comes back. If you're unfamiliar with the domain and don't know what types of things it's bringing you back, it's not connected to the Internet. As of right now, it's only got data from 2021, so it could be complete BS that it's bringing back. And it also could make a bad impression on the interview. Right. I think it's okay to say if I'm familiar with the domain, I'd actually bring up Chat GPT and ask it a couple of things right here, but in this exercise, I'm going to do my best to do it myself. That's a happy medium for me where I'd say, okay, yes, they're utilizing the tool and they're telling me that they would utilize that tool. But for the purposes of a whiteboard meeting, a whiteboard interview, I think I want to see how you think rather than how you use a tool to influence your decisions. I want to know what I'm working with at a baseline before I get any additional tools into the mix. I don't know. The purpose of the exercise is to really assess your ability to come up with ideas on your own and showcase your problem solving skills. And you might argue that Chat GPT is a problem solving tool, but again, I'm looking at a baseline here. I do want to kind of follow up on just a couple of things though, since everyone's talking about Chat GPT, things that worked for them in terms of using this in an operational environment. We could do this to populate personas. That's actually something that I thought about the other day and trying and having some relative success with. It's just kind of a baseline. It grabs the averages of everything, and so it's a good baseline. Piloting surveys ask it to critique some of your work. Here's my goal. Here's the questions that I'm asking to get to that goal. Do you have any feedback? And then asking for generic feedback, critiquing it'll sometimes bring up some things that you didn't think about, and then just general copywriting. All right, that's it for where it came from. Let's just get into this last part of the show we like to call One More thing. There's no introduction here. So, Heidi, I understand that you are really fired up about something. Netflix, have you heard the news yet? Yes, I have. Whacking us with our geolocation to determine whether the main user is using it or somebody else is signing on in order to avoid password sharing. So all these questions came up on the Internet in case people have not heard about it yet. Netflix is, you know, as we in case you're living under Iraq, netflix has been trying to stop password sharing. So they now rolled out in three other countries. They rolled out their new model, where they are basically allowing four people, four devices on the same WiFi connection at your home designated home location to be signed on at the same time. However, when you then move outside of that location, you have to be verified by the home user, but you're only allowed to use it for seven days without having to reverify, and you can only use it 30 days outside of your home. So this poses the question of that was netflix was supposed to be from the get go. It was supposed to not tie you down to a specific location, because it was supposed to be this thing that you can watch anytime, anywhere. How did they call those little things like comedy snippets that you can watch on the go on your commute to work and whatnot. And now, because their stock is tanking or whatever, and they're losing subscribers, they're getting greedy like everybody more gritty. Gritty pretty greedy. And they want to have more money. And so now they want you to basically stop doing that and only use it in a certain location. And look, listen, copper greed, we're now going to stop that. Capitalism, we're never going to stop that. It's always going to be around. My issue with it is, so where's my privacy? Where's my privacy now? Netflix is going to know where I am. Netflix is going to know where my home location is. Netflix is going to know where I go on my five minute break. Netflix is going to track me around the world while I vacation in other places and determine whether I'm allowed to sign on to my own account that I pay for with my own money and my own subscription. So yeah, I'll wrap it up here and say yeah, unsubscribe it'll, make money. Barry, what's your one more thing, change the subject here. This week I went to a conference in person conference around looking at local government and how does local government perform? Particularly in this one really around net zero and things like that. But fundamentally it was looking around the operation local government and how it's evolved and I went with my CIHF hat horn and really I'm really interested around how human factors can get more integrated involved in local government and government as a whole and see if we can add better value. And so I really this entire day and just realized and it was almost a crashing realization even though I've been involved with local government myself was there's loads of issues, there's loads of problems in local government from health care, social care, all these sort of things, but none of them are truly technical problems. We cite technical issues and all these sorts of they're all about human relationships and all the risks that are there. All of the inability for our local government system to match up with our social care system to not be able to match up with our NHS system is because they say there are three very different organizations. Well okay, well that's all down to leadership and if you have enough leadership to turn around, say right, you will talk to this organization and the three of you will get in a room and sort it out until you are all sorted out. It was just really strong that actually there is a lot of value there that the human factors can provide not just at the design level but actually looking at the organizational level and all the other factors that we do. So it was really good because actually it meant that the premise of the stuff I'm going to be trying to do over the next twelve months actually I think I was right but it was just a smashing realization that I should have realized before. But it was good. It made my very long day that I have to be up at 04:00 in the morning for worthwhile. Nick, what about you? Oh man. If any of you out there listening are a parent and have had to go through the stress of preschool okay, so let me just break this down for you. So my son is at the age now, he's going to be in preschool here at the end of the year or in the fall I guess. And so there's like this huge lead time that we have to think about, right? So we're what, eight months removed from fall or seven months I guess. So that's a huge lead time that we have to think about. It's highly competitive and it's just like we found a. Preschool that we really like. We like the instructors. We like the classroom setting. We like everything about it. And my wife went out this morning to go and get us basically make a deposit and say, we want this class, get our son in this class for five days a week. And we got in. We got in because we were thinking about all the what ifs and okay, if we don't get into here. And so my wife and I kind of agreed we're not going to put any mental energy into the what ifs or how to approach something. The alternative, I guess, until we know that it's not for sure. And now we know for sure that he's in, and I'm super thankful. It's a hugely stressful process because it's competitive. Anyway, you all have my sympathies of your parents out there. That's it for today, everyone. If you like this episode and enjoy some of the discussion and maybe want to hear a real world example about how cultural considerations can impact tech, I'll encourage you to go listen to episode 263 where Heidi and I were on talking about talking to dead people and how some cultural reservations might be had about that type of thing. Comment wherever you're listening with what you think of the story this week. For more in depth discussion, you can always join us on our discord community, visit our official website, sign up for our newsletter. Stay up to date with all the latest Human Factors news. You like what you hear? You want to support the show? There's three things that you can do. One of them you could do right now stop what you're doing. Leave us a five star review. You can tell your friends about us. That's the second thing you can do. You know, let them know, hey, these people on this Human Factors podcast talked about culture for 40 minutes, and it was a pretty good discussion. Or three, consider supporting us on Patreon if you have the money, financial means to do so, we would happily take your money to help put it back into the production of this show. No, I'm serious. I don't pocket any of it. I'm like thousands of dollars in debt because of this. Anyway, help me get out of debt. And as always, all of our socials our website are in the description of this episode. I want to thank Heidi Mirzad for being on the show today. Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to? Find out where they can share their HBO login information with you? HBO? Yeah, because they don't track the location. HBO wasn't that great. They can track HF UX research on Twitter, on Instagram. You could also find us at Hfua Usability Labs or labs on Twitter and Insta and all kinds of other handles for all of our divisions. And if you have a direct question, find me on LinkedIn. And damn it. Barry Kirby. Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about, I don't know, government, commerces? Buy me a coffee. I'll meet you anywhere. If you want to come and reach out to me on social media, find me at Bazaar, Skull, K, on Twitter, or any of the other social media channels. If you want to listen to some interviews with interesting people around how they deal with human Factors and their career paths, then you can find me a Twelve or two Human Factors podcast. Twelve or As for rehab and your host, Nick Rome, you can find me on our discord on across social media ethnic underscore. Rome thanks again for tuning in the Human Factors cast. Until next time.

Barry KirbyProfile Photo

Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.

Heidi MehrzadProfile Photo

Heidi Mehrzad

founder and ceo

Heidi is the founder and CEO of the medical human factors and usability consultancy HFUX Research, LLC, which specializes in medical device, technology, and combination product research, design, testing, and development. With a wide-ranging background as a trained pilot, emergency medical technician, software analyst, and human factors and usability expert within the (medical) product development industry, her motivation for the past 20 years has been directed towards enhancing human-product performance by optimizing user interface design, information architecture, and user and product workflow, through the application of human factors science and usability practices. She holds patents in GUI design for medical imaging and surgical navigation software systems, a BS in Aeronautics, and a MS in Human Factors and Systems, both from ERAU, as well as technical degrees in IT Mgmt. and Emergency Medical Services, from SHU and DSC.