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The Roles of Medium and Narrative Believability in Guided Mobile Tour Navigation

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Purpose: This study investigates the role of need for cognition and narrative believability when using a mobile device to take a guided tour of a new location, informing future research and practice in both narrative design and media ecology.
Method: Experiment participants (n = 141) toured a new research facility using one of three combinations of navigation aids (a smartphone only, a brochure and a smartphone, or a brochure only) as a guide. An ordinal regression analysis and multivariate regression analysis were used to assess the relationships among navigation aids, narrative believability, need for cognition, and perceived ease of navigation.
Results: Use of a smartphone only or a brochure in tandem with a smartphone were positively related to evaluations of the narrative as highly consistent as well as perceptions that the narrative offered a high degree of coverage. However, using a brochure in tandem with a smartphone was negatively related to perceived ease of navigation, while narrative plausibility had a positive effect on perceived ease of navigation.
Conclusion: This study illustrates how different mobile devices result in a range of interpretations of the same materials and, ultimately, different levels of success in real-world navigation. Even a simple narrative can aid wayfinding if users find it sufficiently plausible. More broadly, the results suggest the need for research to facilitate the development of more engaging multimedia tour guides.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2021

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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