Infrastructure funding, operating grants and equipment partners


The precise and systematic understanding of the user’s experience, namely affective and cognitive perception and response, of the individual resulting from use of a product, system or service, constitutes a fundamental and prioritized issue in the field of information technology (IT) research. This knowledge is essential for organizations wishing to offer users an interface, which meets their evolving demands. The coapplicants direct the Tech3Lab; the laboratory’s expertise lies in the synchronizing of a wide range of data relevant to the user’s experience. The requested infrastructure would allow the user experience to be studied in a multi-method approach, coupled with triangulation analysis of neurophysiological, physiological, psychological and behavioral data. This new laboratory will increase the function of the existing infrastructure through the addition of six complementary research environments permitting data collection in a non-intrusive and authentic IT setting. This infrastructure is essential to the research programs of the coapplicants funded by the SSHRC, NSERC, and FRQSC. The results of studies conducted in Tech3Lab benefit the laboratory’s Canadian business partners and, through their networks, a large number of other Canadian businesses.

A fundamental issue and priority of current information technology (IT) research is the holistic understanding of information system users. The challenge is centered on the systematic and precise comprehension of the user’s experience, which is defined as the perception and response, both affective and cognitive, of an individual resulting from their use or anticipated use of an information system. From this perspective, current IT research focuses on the role of emotions and cognition in the formation of the user’s experience. At the heart of our research program is the theorization of the user’s experience, which is based on a rich IS conceptual framework. The IS takes into consideration technological and individual characteristics, as well as the task at hand in order to understand the concept of use. Specifically, our research program highlights three research axes, each covering three distinct and complementary user experience contexts: 1) the context of decision making with an information system (axis 1), 2) the context of learning and adaptation to an information system (axis 2), 3) the context of collaboration between users (axis 3). The originality of our research program lies in its multi-method approach. Although IS research has extensively studied the user’s experience, notably through self-report measures, to this day, very few existing studies focus on implicit factors, (i.e. automatic or unconscious) which form the base of emotions and cognition, which in turn influence the users’ perceptions. Measuring these implicit factors requires expertise in the use of psychophysiological measures, which has been demonstrated by our team through multiple important publications throughout the past years. These numerous publications were enabled by our team’s access to HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab first-rate infrastructures, financed by the CFI and MESRST. Furthermore, our research program contributes to the development of both practical and theoretical knowledge. Professionals in the field are increasingly interested in the understanding of the user’s experience, as seen in the recent opening of multiple user experience laboratories in numerous large organizations. The collaboration of team members is based on a solid foundation, and continues to grow.

The proposed laboratory will enable the research programs of two experienced researchers in the field of information technologies (IT) and electronic commerce and marketing (ECM). These research programs aim to study how individuals and groups make decisions with information technologies. Specifically, the laboratory will allow research pertaining to 1) the collaboration and decision taking in the context of software packaging for integral management (principal researcher: P.M. Léger) and 2) consumers decision making on the Internet (principal researcher: S. Sénécal). The study of behavior in information technology and in electronic commerce and marketing often relies on approaches in which the participants are interrogated on their perceptions of phenomena with the use of a questionnaire. Also, in the past, experimental research in this field has generally been confined to laboratory environments which do not reliably reproduce the complex organizational contexts of information technology. Multiple calls for research request a larger triangulation of objective perceptual measures. This type of research requires expensive equipment, which is essential to the continuation of the work conducted by the co-researchers making this demand. The proposed laboratory will house a range of observation technologies which assure the triangulation of diverse empirical evidence (psychometrics, psychophysiological, observer and user data). The infrastructure will house a variety of information technologies similar to those used in real organizations. The proposed infrastructure will be composed of: 2 experimental rooms, 2 observation rooms, one reception area, and a waiting room.

Operating grants

Despite the fast growth of games on mobile platforms, the industry is faced with important challenges relative to player attrition rates. The average abandon rate for mobile games after a single day is 77%. Taking into account the predominance of the in-game purchase business model (i.e. free game with the possibility of making purchases within the application), it is essential for Hibernum to identify measures to reduce abandon rates once a player has accessed a game. The goal of this research is to determine the factors/characteristics of game which contribute to abandon when a new player accesses the game. Specifically, as the tutorial phase generates the most abandons, the short-term objective is to identify the characteristics of a tutorial which increases by 10% the intention of post-tutorial continuation of playing the game. We hypothesize that an efficient tutorial generates emotions compatible with the state of optimal experience, thus contributing to the intention of starting and eventually continuing to use of an application. A study will be conducted to test this hypothesis. Two experimental conditions (didactic tutorial vs. intuitive tutorial) will be used. Each participant will consecutively explore two games with the same type of tutorial. The research results will lead to the development of parameters used to orient the creation of new tutorials for current and future game developments. The results can be implemented in the short-term, as the two games serving as experimental stimuli will be put on the market shortly after result disclosure.

Despite the fast growth of games on mobile platforms, the educational and training application (ETA) sector is faced with a challenge relative to usability. It is particularly difficult, yet capital for Tribal Nova, to measure negative emotions associated to ETA interfaces, and to isolate these from the learning challenge. The objective of this study is to determine the factors/characteristics of ETA interfaces which contribute to negative emotions such as user frustration (ex. of school or preschool age children) towards a new task when they do not understand the question or the procedure to follow. Specifically, as the group of users is largely captive, the short-term goal is to identify characteristics of an interface which permit an increase in average time of use. Linked to the theory of ego depletion, we hypothesize that an effective ETA will minimize negative emotions linked to the interface, allowing the individual to conserve their self-control resources for the main task. Second, having implemented practices to minimize the variable created by user incomprehension, Tribal Nova can conduct research to optimize the variability of the difficulty level of tasks. A laboratory experiment will be conducted to test this hypothesis. An experimental procedure with five tasks, presenting variability in task type and difficulty level, will be used. Each participant will consecutively complete the five tasks during a period of an hour. The results of this study will serve as parameters and guidelines, which will orient the current and future development of ETAs. The results of this study can be implemented in the short-term, as new platforms and tasks from ETAs will be launched shortly after result disclosure, to serve as experimental stimuli.

Efficient collaboration of knowledge workers, often geographically distributed and supported by collaboration information technologies (CIT), are very important for the Canadian economy. The present program will follow my current work, built on my expertise and research interest for efficient collaboration in the context of CITs. This research program aims to contribute to the elaboration of intelligence systems with the goal of helping distributed groups of individual collaborated more efficiently. Through feedback mechanisms in real time, based on non-invasive and non-intrusif neurophysiological measures, the objective is to make individuals conscious of the group dynamic underlying their interactions in order to improve performance. This program is based on recent progress in the field of neurophysiological synchronicity (NS), through the development of real-time retroactive interaction mechanisms. The NS is defined as the level of coherence between interacting individuals’ neurophysiological signals. This coherence is measured through the simultaneous inter-individual expression of cognitive and affective states, whose occurrence can be inferred through neurophysiological data from the interacting individuals. In a certain way, as the old saying goes, it could be suggested that individuals are “on the same wavelength.” Through a series of three laboratory studies, the present program aims to answer five (5) research questions pertaining to the development of intelligence systems with the goal of providing non-intrusive support for knowledge workers collaboration. This project’s contributions are scientific and industrial. The program offers collaborative research opportunities for industries, and highly qualified staff training for a field in shortage of a qualified workforce.

The year 2011 marks a turning point for mobile technology, as the number of shipments of smartphones and tablets is expected to surpass those of personal computers (Economist 2011). Given the increase in usage of mobile technologies, it is essential both for theory and practice to investigate the factors that influence users in selecting these devices over others to accomplish certain personal and work related tasks and how this usage influences their beliefs, attitudes, intentions, behaviors, and productivity. The current proposal aims at setting up a long-term, multifaceted, and collaborative research partnership where industry and academia can co-develop projects within an encompassing research program. Our goal is to conduct cutting-edge research in order to not only contribute to Information Systems (IS) and Marketing theory, but also to help partner organizations optimize their mobile techniques, methods, and strategies. Specifically, the overall objective of this research program is to gain a deeper understanding of the usage of web enabled mobile device (i.e., tablets and smartphones), its antecedents, and consequences for individual users and businesses. Further, the proposed multi-method research program will use neuroscience and physiological research methods (e.g., electroencephalography, eye-tracking) to complement traditional research methods in Marketing and IS (e.g., self-reported questionnaire). The proposed research has five specific objectives: 1) To identify the antecedents of mobile user decision to perform specific tasks with a mobile device on a trial basis, 2) To identify the antecedents of user decision to perform specific tasks with a mobile device on a continuous basis, 3) To identify usage processes of mobile users in their daily work and personal activities, specifically the neurophysiological processes involved in the use of these devices, 4) Measure the quality of technological interfaces as well as their potential impacts on performance in order to optimize both personal and work related experiences, 5) To identify the consequences of mobile usage to perform specific tasks on users’ beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and productivity. The proposed research program has three confirmed partners (Meditative, SAP, and EEG Avatar) and two partnerships under discussion. Mediative provides Canadian retailers with advertising solutions (print, mobile, and online). Hence, they are interested by issues related to the mobile consumer. SAP is the world leader in enterprise integrated software solutions. They are interested by issues related to the mobile employee. Finally, EEG Avatar is an innovative company manufacturing mobile electroencephalography (EEG) data acquisition equipment. It has a keen interest in the proposed research program in order to develop and test new products in a multi-method neuroscience research environment. Meeting the above research objectives will contribute to theory by identifying antecedents and consequences of mobile usage in order to help generate a comprehensive framework of mobile usage. These findings will also help managers identify key elements that can be addressed to increase usage penetration, and understand the consequences of mobile usage by consumers and business users. It must be noted that the proposed research program will continue beyond these first three years. Our goal is to build strong ties with our partners during these first three years, and to continue addressing these issues with our partners’ collaboration after this preliminary period.

A cognitive script can be defined as a “predetermined, stereotyped sequence of actions that define a well-known situation” (Shank and Abelson 1977). For instance, a consumer going to a fast-food restaurant may activate her “fast-food restaurant” script which consists of a series of steps causally and temporally ordered such as placing her order at the counter, paying, waiting, receiving her order, finding a table, eating, etc. A comprehensive literature review in cognitive psychology and marketing suggests that online cognitive scripts have not yet been investigated. Since online interactions possess unique characteristics (i.e., self-service technology), further research is needed to understand if and how cognitive scripts are used by consumers when shopping online. Also, no research has yet investigated the formation of cognitive scripts by consumers. Most studies focused on inter-individual script differences (expert vs. novices), but not on intra-individual script differences over time (i.e., script formation). A better understanding of script formation should lead to interesting insights on consumer learning. In addition, the literature does not provide evidence of the influence of different cognitive script activations on consumers’ responses (e.g., cognition, behavior, attitudes, intentions) when facing a novel situation (e.g., new store). Hence, the proposed research program aims at answering the following research questions: 1) Do consumers activate cognitive scripts when shopping online? 2) How do multiple visits to a single retailer or single visit to multiple online retailers influence cognitive script formation? 3) Do different cognitive scripts influence consumers’ responses when visiting a retailer? Three studies are proposed within this research program in order to answer the above research questions. First, a qualitative study will be performed to verify if consumers use cognitive scripts while shopping online. Second, a lab experiment using self-reported measures will be conducted to test how online cognitive scripts are formed and evolve over multiples visits to retailer websites and how different scripts influence consumers’ responses toward a new retailer website. Third, a lab experiment using neurophysiological and physiological measures will be performed to gain a deeper understanding of script formation and its impact on consumers’ responses toward a new website. A better understanding of how consumers form and activate their cognitive scripts has theoretical and managerial implications. For instance, the use of objective measures such as neurophysiological measures to assess consumers’ cognitive script formation and activation should lead to important findings, which will contribute to marketing and cognitive science theory (i.e., consumer expertise, schemata formation, cognitive script theory). In addition, by testing Bar’s (2008) proposed universal principle of brain activity in an applied consumer decision-making setting which to our knowledge has not been done, our findings could also contribute theory development in neuroscience. Finally, the proposed research program will also contribute to the growing literature on Neuromarketing and NeuroIS by introducing new objective measures that complement traditional self-reported measures used in these fields. A more in-depth understanding of cognitive scripts will also help managers propose websites that are better aligned with their clients’ cognitive scripts and also design marketing activities to influence consumers’ script formation.