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Understanding small graphical symbols: A cross-cultural study
Division of Industrial Ergonomics, Dept. Hum. Wk. Sci., Lulea Univ. T., Luleå, Sweden.
Division of Industrial Ergonomics, Dept. Hum. Wk. Sci., Lulea Univ. T., Luleå, Sweden.
Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial ergonomics .
2001 (English)In: International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, ISSN 0169-8141, Vol. 27, no 6, 399-404 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Graphical symbols such as icons or pictograms as interfaces in modern technological devices have become quite common. Although generally designed in western countries, their use can be found worldwide from audio-visual appliances to computers and computer-related devices. A basic ergonomic principle is to involve the potential users in the design and evaluation stages especially when the user groups are quite diverse. This study was part of an international project on evaluating telecommunication symbols. One of the major objectives was to test different graphical symbols (of the videophone), designed, and tested in Western Europe using subject groups from Asia, Europe, and the United States. This paper would discuss the major portions of the tests involving US and Swedish subjects. Performance indices used were hits, certainties, confusions, and semantic differential ratings. They were useful in analysing how the symbols were recognised, confused, and perceived by different subject groups. They also helped detect differences between groups which otherwise seemed to have similar test results. The results showed differences in patterns of ratings, which may be culturally linked and could help determine aspects of symbol design and usage that may be more helpful in designing instructions, learning aids, etc. Awareness of such subject bias and their implications are important on how one interprets the test results.Relevance to industryThe study outcome can be very helpful for industries in designing and evaluating candidate graphical symbols across various types of consumer products for worldwide use. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. Vol. 27, no 6, 399-404 p.
Keyword [en]
Cross-cultural studies, Evaluation, Graphical symbols, Icons, Pictograms, Semantic differential testing
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-47369DOI: 10.1016/S0169-8141(01)00007-5OAI: diva2:268265
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2011-01-13

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