Northeastern University to have Strong Presence at ACM CHI 2023

The most prestigious human–computer interaction conference in the world is taking place in Hamburg, Germany this month, and researchers from Khoury College, the College of Engineering, and the College of Arts, Media and Design are ready. Their work, which touches on everything from parrot socialization to deceptive dark patterns to social media misinformation, has made Northeastern the seventh-ranked institution in the world in terms of CHI publications, as well as sixth in the United States and first in Massachusetts. MIE Associate Professor Jacqueline Griffin won a best paper award for her research on “What Do We Mean When We Talk about Trust in Social Media? A Systematic Review.” Dean Gregory D. Abowd will be featured in a fireside chat for his recent SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award and also received an honorable mention for his paper “Functional Destruction: Utilizing Sustainable Materials’ Physical Transiency for Electronics Applications.”

The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems brings together researchers and practitioners from all over the world and from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and positionalities, who have as an overarching goal to make the world a better place with interactive digital technologies. Below is a subset of the COE Northeastern University papers being presented. A schedule of Northeastern presenters and their papers are listed on the Khoury site.

What Do We Mean When We Talk about Trust in Social Media? A Systematic Review
Winner: Best Paper
Authors: Yixuan Zhang, Joseph D. Gaggiano, Nutchanon Yongsatianchot, Nurul M. Suhaimi, Miso Kim (CAMD), Yifan Sun, Jacqueline Griffin (CoE), Andrea G. Parker

Do people trust social media? If so, why, in what contexts, and how does that trust impact their lives? Researchers, companies, and journalists alike have increasingly investigated these questions, which are fundamental to understanding social media interactions and their implications for society. However, trust in social media is a complex concept, and there is conflicting evidence about the antecedents and implications of trusting social media content, users, and platforms. More problematic is that we lack basic agreement as to what trust means in the context of social media. Addressing these challenges, we conducted a systematic review to identify themes and challenges in this field. Through our analysis of 70 papers, we contribute a synthesis of how trust in social media is defined, conceptualized, and measured, a summary of trust antecedents in social media, an understanding of how trust in social media impacts behaviors and attitudes, and directions for future work.

Functional Destruction: Utilizing Sustainable Materials’ Physical Transiency for Electronics Applications
Winner: Honorable Mention
Authors: Tingyu Cheng, Taylor Tabb, Jung Wook Park, Eric M. Gallo, Aditi Maheshwari, Gregory D. Abowd* (CoE), HyunJoo Oh, Andreea Danielescu

Today’s electronics are manufactured to provide stable functionality and fixed physical forms optimized for reliable operation over long periods and repeated use. However, even when applications don’t call for such robustness, the permanency of these electronics comes with environmental consequences. In this paper, we describe an alternative approach that utilizes sustainable transient electronics whose method of destruction is also key to their functionality. We create these electronics through three different methods: 1) by inkjet printing conductive silver traces on poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) substrates to create water-soluble sensors; 2) by mixing a conductive beeswax material configured as a meltable sensor; and 3) by fabricating edible electronics with 3D printed chocolate and culinary gold leaf. To enable practical applications of these devices, we implement a fully transient and sustainable chipless RF detection system.

Thought Bubbles: A Proxy into Players’ Mental Model Development

Authors: Omid Mohaddesi (Industrial PhD’23), Noah Chicoine (Industrial PhD’25), Min Gong (Industrial MS’22), Ozlem Ergun (CoE), Jacqueline Griffin (CoE), David Kaeli* (CoE), Stacy Marsella (+CoS), Casper Harteveld* (CAMD)

In a work honored at CHI last year, this research team designed a game. Players role-played as wholesalers attempting to source medication from factories and supply hospitals during a supply chain disruption. Some hoarded medication from the beginning, others reacted to the shortage with panic-buying, and still others followed their computer’s recommendations through the whole game.

“(Last year), we identified Hoarders, Reactors, and Followers using observable behavior, and now we attempted to investigate differences in the development of these groups’ mental models,” said lead author and doctoral student Omid Mohaddesi, referring to the representation of a real-world situation that someone holds in their head. “We can see different patterns in the mental model development of groups of people and how information sharing impacts their mental model development … all this insight can potentially help us make better decision-support tools.”

To get contextualized insights into how their subjects’ mental models developed over time, the research team added a recurring, open-ended reflection prompt called a “thought bubble” to the supply chain game. Through two related studies, they coded participants’ reflections based on whether they were perceiving elements of the environment (“the backlog has gone up”), comprehending the meaning of those elements (“this is bad for our business”), or projecting a future state (“we will have to buy more medicine”). Researchers could then spot patterns between the ways people modeled the world and the decisions they made when managing a supply chain.

The study found that distinctions in participants’ supply chain management decisions are the result of differences in the development of their mental models. For instance, hoarders are proactive because they struggle to make sense of the situation — leading to uncertainty about the future — while “followers” trust order suggestions because they interpret the situation positively. The study also presents thought bubbles as a method for further studying mental models.

Studying mental models has recently received more attention, aiming to understand the cognitive aspects of human-computer interaction. However, there is not enough research on the elicitation of mental models in complex dynamic systems. We present Thought Bubbles as an approach for eliciting mental models and an avenue for understanding players’ mental model development in interactive virtual environments. We demonstrate the use of Thought Bubbles in two experimental studies involving 250 participants playing a supply chain game. In our analyses, we rely on Situation Awareness (SA) levels, including perception, comprehension, and projection, and show how experimental manipulations such as disruptions and information sharing shape players’ mental models and drive their decisions depending on their behavioral profile. Our results provide evidence for the use of thought bubbles in uncovering cognitive aspects of behavior by indicating how disruption location and availability of information affect people’s mental model development and influence their decisions.

SwellSense: Creating 2.5D Interactions with Micro-Capsule Paper
Authors: Tingyu Cheng, Zhihan Zhang, Bingrui Zong, Yuhui Zhao, Zekun Chang, Ye Jun Kim, Clement Zhang, Gregory D. Abowd* (CoE), HyunJoo Oh

In this paper, we propose SwellSense, a fabrication technique to screen print stretchable circuits onto a special micro-capsule paper, creating localized swelling patterns with sensing capabilities. This simple technique will allow users to create a wide range of paper-based tactile interactive devices, which are mostly maintaining 2D planar form factor but can also be curved or folded into 3D interactive artifacts. We first present the design guidelines to support various tactile interaction design including basic tactile graphic geometries, patterns with directional density, or finer interactive textures with embedded sensing such as touch sensor, pressure sensor, and mechanical switch. We then provide a design editor to enable users to design more creatively using the SwellSense technique. We provide a technical evaluation and user evaluation to validate the basic performance of SwellSense. Lastly, we demonstrate several application examples and conclude with a discussion on current limitations and future work.

Algorithmic Power or Punishment: Information Worker Perspectives on Passive Sensing Enabled AI Phenotyping of Performance and Wellbeing
Authors: Vedant Das Swain, Lan Gao, William A. Wood, Srikruthi C. Matli, Gregory D. Abowd* (CoE), Munmun De Choudhury

We are witnessing an emergence in Passive Sensing enabled AI (PSAI) to provide dynamic insights for performance and wellbeing of information workers. Hybrid work paradigms have simultaneously created new opportunities for PSAI, but have also fostered anxieties of misuse and privacy intrusions within a power asymmetry. At this juncture, it is unclear if those who are sensed can find these systems acceptable. We conducted scenario-based interviews of 28 information workers to highlight their perspectives as data subjects in PSAI. We unpack their expectations using the Contextual Integrity framework of privacy and information gathering. Participants described appropriateness of PSAI based on its impact on job consequences, work-life boundaries, and preservation of flexibility. They perceived that PSAI inferences could be shared with selected stakeholders if they could negotiate the algorithmic inferences. Our findings help envision worker-centric approaches to implementing PSAI as an empowering tool in the future of work.

Related Faculty: Jacqueline Griffin, Gregory D. Abowd, Ozlem Ergun, David Kaeli, Casper Harteveld

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering