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Forward/up directional incompatibilities during cursor placement within graphical user interfaces

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Within graphical user interfaces, an indirect relationship between display and control may lead to directional incompatibilities when a forward mouse movement codes upward cursor motions. However, this should not occur for left/right movements or direct cursor controllers (e.g. touch sensitive screens). In a four-choice reaction time task, 12 participants performed movements from a central start location to a target situated at one of four cardinal points (top, bottom, left, right). A 2 × 2 × 2 design varied directness of controller (moving cursor on computer screen or pen on graphics tablet), compatibility of orientation of cursor controller with screen (horizontal or vertical) and axis of desired cursor motion (left/right or up/down). Incompatibility between orientation of controller and motion of cursor did not affect response latencies, possibly because both forward and upward movements are away from the midline and go up the visual field. However, directional incompatibilities between display and controller led to slower movement with prolonged accelerative phases. Indirect relationships between display and control led to less efficient movements with prolonged decelerative phases and a tendency to undershoot movements along the bottom/top axis. More direct cursor control devices, such as touch sensitive screens, should enhance the efficiency of aspects of cursor trajectories.
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Keywords: Directional compatibility; Graphical user interface; Graphics tablet; Kinematics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Psychology Department, Monash University, VIC 3800, Australia 2: Air Operations Division, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, 506 Lorimer Street, Fishermans Bend, VIC 3207, Australia

Publication date: May 15, 2005

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