Misuse And Abuse Of Interactive Technologies

Call for papers for a Special Issue of Interaction Studies Journal on Misuse And Abuse Of Interactive Technologies.

Current HCI research is witnessing a shift from a materialistic perspective of viewing the computer as a tool for cognition to an experiential vision where the computer becomes a medium for emotion. So far, investigations into the user emotional engagement in computing have mainly addressed the elicitation of positive feelings, including enjoyment, happiness, and fun. Research in Funology (Blythe, Monk, Overbeeke, & Wright, 2003) echoes Norman’s conclusions about aesthetics: fun matters­–fun interfaces work better. Unfortunately, enjoyment is not something added to an emotionally neutral computing experience. The user’s experiences are colored by a host of emotions, many of them negative.

Workshops held at Interact2005 and CHI2006 (De Angeli, Brahnam, & Wallis, 2005; De Angeli, Brahnam, Wallis, & Dix, 2006) suggested that interface design and metaphors can inadvertently rouse more than user dissatisfaction and angry reactions: they can promote a wide range of negative behaviors that are directed not only towards the machine but also towards other people. The idea of a medium for emotion implies the possibility of harming the user, designing computer programs which generate anger, sadness, fear, and grieves.

The goal of this special issue is to address the darker side of HCI by examining how computers sometimes bring about the expression of negative emotions and disinhibited behaviour. We are interested, for example, in the phenomena of human beings abusing their computers. Is it truly a form of abuse? What consequences does it have on user’s performance and interaction design? Disinhibited behaviours directed against computers can take many forms, ranging from verbally abusing a machine to physically attacking it. In some cases, particularly in the case of embodied conversational agents, there are questions about how the machine should respond to user abuses. We are also interested in understanding the psychological underpinnings of computer-mediated abuse and in exploring how HCI factors influence human-to-human abuse in computer mediated communication. Key issues include, but are not limited to:

  • How does the misuse and abuse of the interface affect the user’s experience?
  • How do different interface metaphors (embodied conversational characters, windows, desktops, robots) shape a propensity to misuse or abuse the interface?
  • What design factors trigger or restrain disinhibited behaviors?
  • How does technology-mediated abuse differ from other forms of abuse, e.g., the abuse of people, symbols, flags sacred objects, and personal property?
  • How can we develop embodied conversational characters or robots that learn to constrain users who engage in verbal abuse? Should ethical values for human societies and HCI be identical? Do we even need to diffuse it?
  • What social norms and values play a role on technology misuse and what influence does the power distance between the agent/robot and the user have?


  • Blythe, M., Monk, A., Overbeeke, K., & Wright, P. (Eds.). (2003). Funology: From Usability to Enjoyment. Boston: Kluwer, Academic Publisher. | DOI 10.1007/1-4020-2967-5
  • De Angeli, A., Brahnam, S., & Wallis, P. (Eds.). (2005). Proceedings of the Interact 2005 Workshop on Abuse: The dark side of Human-Computer Interaction. Rome September 12. | Download PDF
  • De Angeli, A., Brahnam, S., Wallis, P., & Dix, A. (Eds.). (2006). Proceedings of the CHI2006 workshop on Misuse and Abuse of Interactive Technologies. Montreal, April 22. | DOI 10.1145/1125451.1125753

Guest Editors:

Antonella De Angeli (University of Manchester), UK

Sheryl Brahnam (Missouri State University), US

Christoph Bartneck (Eindhoven University of Technology), NL

Catherine Pelachaud (Université de Paris 8), FR


Research articles should not exceed 8000 words. Contributions should be in British or American English and should follow the American Psychological Association (APA) style. Please submit an electronic file of your paper (preferably in PDF), double spaced, with margins of 3 cm all round to


The first page of a manuscript should contain the title of the article, the name, affiliation, email and postal address of each author. Followed by a self-contained abstract in English (max. 150 words) that includes the keywords pertaining to your article, and a biographical note about the author(s) of not more than 100 words.

Important Dates:

Authors intending to submit are encouraged to contact Antonella De Angeli as soon as possible to discuss paper ideas and suitability for this issue.

  • January 19th, 2007: Submission
  • March 9th, 2007: Notification of acceptance
  • April 22th, 2007: Submission of camera­ready version (updated)

Journal Details:

Interaction Studies aims to advance knowledge in the growing and strongly interdisciplinary area of interaction studies in biological and artificial systems. It intends to act as a medium for dialogues across the boundaries of academic disciplines for research into social behaviour and communication that has traditionally been presented in separate specialist journals.

Editor-in-Chief: Kerstin Dautenhahn and James Hurford
Department of Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire, UK
University of Edinburgh, UK
ISSN: 1572-0373
E-ISSN: 1572-0381


Antonella De Angeli

Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design
School of Informatics, the University of Manchester
Manchester M60 1QD, United Kingdom



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