An Activity Theory Approach to Intuitiveness: From Artefact to Process

  • Sturla BakkeEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9169)


Intuition is a widely employed term when describing or evaluating user interfaces in an HCI context. It is used in by most people in their daily life, regardless of technology use; it is applied by users in various socio-technical contexts; it is even utilized by developers themselves. While Susanne Bødker and others brought activity theory into the HCI discourse, in much of the literature, intuition has largely remained within the cognitive science discourse. In an activity theoretical approach, this paper attempts to connect intuitiveness to activity and pointing out the changing perception of the concept of intuitiveness in relation to skill levels; changing from being connected primarily to artifacts at an unskilled level, to being linked exclusively to tasks and processes at expert level.


Intuitive use User interfaces Activity theory Experience 


  1. 1.
    Card, S.K., Moran, T.P., Newell, A.: The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. Taylor & Francis, New York (1983)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Norman, D.A.: Perspectives on Cognitive Science. Ablex Publishing Corporation, New York (1981)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Raskin, J.: Viewpoint: intuitive equals familiar. Commun. ACM 37(9), 17–18 (1994)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bannon, L.: From human factors to human actors: the role of psychology and human computer interaction studies in system design. In: Greenbaum, J., Kyng, M. (eds.) Design at Work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale (1991)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bardram, J.E.: Plans as situated action: an activity theory approach to workflow systems. In: Proceedings of the Fifth European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Springer, The Netherlands (1997)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bertelsen, O.W., Bødker, S.: Activity theory. In: Carroll, J.M. (ed.) HCI Models Theories, and Frameworks: Toward a Multidisciplinary Science. Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco (2003)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bærentsen, K.B., Trettvik, J.: An activity theory approach to affordance. In: Proceedings of the Second Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 51–60. ACM (2002)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bødker, S.: Through the Interface. CRC Press, Boca Raton (1990)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kaptelinin, V., Nardi, B.: Activity theory in HCI: fundamentals and reflections. Synth. Lect. Hum. Centered Inform. 5(1), 1–105 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kuutti, K.: Activity theory as a potential framework for human-computer interaction research. In: Nardi, B.A. (ed.) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction. MIT Press, Cambridge (1995)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Nardi, B.A.: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction. MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nardi, B.A.: Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction. MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Naumann, A.B., Hurtienne, J., Israel, J.H., Mohs, C., Kindsmüller, M.C., Meyer, H.A., Hußlein, S.: Intuitive use of user interfaces: defining a vague concept. In: Harris, D. (ed.) HCII 2007 and EPCE 2007. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 4562, pp. 128–136. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Grudin, J.: Interactive systems: bridging the gaps between developers and users. Computer 24(4), 59–69 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kaptelinin, V.: Computer-mediated activity: functional organs in social and developmental contexts. In: Nardi, B.A. (ed.) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction. MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Engeström, Y.: Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. J. Educ. Work 14(1), 133–156 (2001). doi: 10.1080/13639080020028747 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kaptelinin, V., Nardi, B.: Affordances in HCI: toward a mediated action perspective. In: Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 967–976. ACM (2012)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Engeström, Y.: Learning by Expanding: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Orienta-Konsultit, Helsinki (1987)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kaptelinin, V., Kuutti, K., Bannon, L.: Activity theory: basic concepts and applications. In: Blumenthal, B., Gornostaev, J., Unger, C. (eds.) Human-Computer Interaction. LNCS, vol. 1015, pp. 189–201. Springer, Heidelberg (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kaptelinin, V., Nardi, B.A.: Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design. MIT Press, Cambridge (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Israel, J.H., Hurtienne, J., Pohlmeyer, A.E., Mohs, C., Kindsmuller, M., Naumann, A.: On intuitive use, physicality and tangible user interfaces. Int. J. Arts Technol. 2(4), 348–366 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Blackler, A., Popovic, V., Mahar, D.: Investigating users’ intuitive interaction with complex artefacts. Appl. Ergon. 41(1), 72–92 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Barnard, P.J.: Cognitive resources and the learning of human-computer dialogs. In: Carroll, J.M. (ed.) Interfacing Thought: Cognitive Aspects of Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 112–158. MIT Press, Cambridge (1987)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Green, T.R.G., Davies, S.P., Gilmore, D.J.: Delivering cognitive psychology to HCI: the problems of common language and of knowledge transfer. Interact. Comput. 8(1), 89–111 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Newell, A., Card, S.K.: The prospects for psychological science in human-computer interaction. Hum. Comput. Interact. 1(3), 209–242 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Norman, D.A.: Cognitive engineering–cognitive science. In: Caroll, J.M. (ed.) Interfacing Thought: Cognitive Aspects of Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 325–336. MIT Press, Cambridge (1987)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Payne, S.J.: Users’ mental models: the very ideas. In: Caroll, J.M. (ed.) HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks: Toward a Multidisciplinary Science, pp. 135–156. Morgan Kaufmann, Amsterdam (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Norman, D.: The Design of Everyday Things. Revised and Expanded Edition. Basic Books, New York (2013)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Blackler, A.L., Popovic, V., Mahar, D.P.: Intuitive interaction applied to interface design. In: International Design Congress - IASDR 2005, Douliou, Taiwan (2005)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Dreyfus, H.L., Dreyfus, S.E.: Mind Over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer. Free Press, New York (1986)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hurtienne, J., Weber, K., Blessing, L.: Prior experience and intuitive use: image schemas in user centred design. In: Langdon, P., Clarkson, J., Robinson, P. (eds.) Designing Inclusive Futures. Springer, London (2008)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Naumann, A.B., Pohlmeyer, A.E., Husslein, S., Kindsmüller, M.C., Mohs, C., Israel, J.H.: Design for intuitive use: beyond usability. In: CHI 2008 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2375–2378. ACM, New York (2008)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Csikszentmihalyi, M.: Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Springer, Amsterdam (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Csikszentmihalyi, M., Abuhamdeh, S., Nakamura, J.: Flow. In: Elliot, A.J., Dweck, C.S. (eds.) Handbook of Competence and Motivation, pp. 598–608. The Guildford Press (2005)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gaver, W.W.: Technology affordances. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 79–84. ACM (1991)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    McGrenere, J., Ho, W.: Affordances: clarifying and evolving a concept. In: Graphics Interface, pp. 179–186 (2000)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TechnologyWesterdals - Oslo School of Arts, Communication and TechnologyOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations