Feedback preferences and impressions of waiting

Russell Branaghan, Christopher A. Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: Three experiments examined the effects of various feedback displays on user preference, apparent waiting durations, waiting time reasonableness, and other user experience measures. Background: User interface guidelines advocate keeping users informed about system status; however, the duration estimation literature shows that focusing on temporal information makes the wait seem longer. How can designers reconcile these issues? Methods: In three experiments, students chose movies from a simulated movie database and then were shown feedback displays (static, sequential dots, constant-rate progress bars, or variable-rate progress bars) for different durations. Users judged how reasonable the wait was and how long it lasted and then ranked their preference for the dialogs. Results: The pattern of preference results was different from duration-related judgments. Users preferred feedback that provided more information. On the other hand, when judging duration, users perceived simpler interfaces as being most reasonable. Conclusion: Different types of feedback are required for reducing perceived wait and increasing preference. Ratings of wait time reasonableness were consistent with the attentional gate theory of prospective timing; attention-demanding activity caused the wait to seem less reasonable. Preference, on the other hand, requires keeping users informed about the progress of operations. Application: Users prefer more feedback rather than less, even if it makes the wait seem less reasonable. However, the constant progress bar performed at the top of both reasonableness and preference, keeping users informed without increasing arousal or focusing attention on temporal stimuli. Other options are also discussed to make duration perceptions more reasonable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-538
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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