Designing for Reflection on Sender Effort in Close Personal Communication

Kelly, Ryan; Gooch, Daniel and Watts, Leon (2018). Designing for Reflection on Sender Effort in Close Personal Communication. In: Proceedings of the 30th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference (OzCHI ’18), ACM, New York, pp. 314–325.



Research has identified that people in close relationships value effort that is invested into the creation of digital messages. This paper explores the potential for communication systems to encourage reflection by revealing evidence of effort to message recipients, allowing for it to be appreciated. Focusing on text-based communication, we report findings from an exploratory study of three interface prototypes that probe users’ reactions to the notion of revealing sender effort. We find that information about effort can foster empathy and appreciation by encouraging reflection over meaningful actions. However, designers of communication tools must address the issues of authenticity, controlled disclosure and cost in access if reflection on effort is to be valued. We consider how designers might negotiate these issues in future effort-sensitive communication technologies.

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