Understanding the Role of Context in Creating Enjoyable Co-Located Interactions

Szu-Yu(Cyn) Liu, Brian A. Smith, Rajan Vaish, Andrés Monroy-Hernández
Event CSCW 2022
Research Areas Human Computer Interaction

In recent years, public discourse has blamed digital technologies for making people feel “alone together,” distracting us from engaging with one another, even when we are interacting in-person. We argue that in order to design technologies that foster and augment co-located interactions, we need to first understand the context in which enjoyable co-located socialization takes place. We address this gap by surveying and interviewing over 1,000 U.S.-based participants to understand what, where, with whom, how, and why people enjoy spending time in-person. Our findings suggest that people enjoy engaging in everyday activities with individuals with whom they have strong social ties because it helps enable nonverbal cues, facilitate spontaneity, support authenticity, encourage undivided attention, and leverage the physicality of their bodies and the environment. We conclude by providing a set of recommendations for designers interested in creating co-located technologies that encourage social engagement and relationship building.