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Department of Computer Science


My research is all in the area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) which is the study of how people use digital technologies, the problems they encounter and the the experiences they have. Though I have a broad interest in HCI, my specific research interests:

  1. Research methods for HCI
  2. Player experience of digital games
  3. Errors in interactions

If you are interested in working with me, particularly if you are looking to do a PhD with me, I am happy to discuss these areas with you further. Just get in touch.

Full list of publications

Research methods for HCI

As digital technologies cut across more and more areas of modern life, so researching them needs to cut across more and more disciplines and draw on the research methods of those disciplines. I co-edited, with Anna Cox, the first book on research methods specific to HCI and I use a wide-range of methods in my research including psychometric scale development, experiments, qualitative methods and user modelling. I am currently writing a book on the use of modern statistical methods in HCI.

Experience of playing digital games

We would like our interactive systems to offer fulfilling experiences to people but often they don't. By contrast, games offer compelling experiences to millions of players every day but we know little about what precisely those experiences are and how games provoke them. I am interested in a range of aspects of player experience including immersion, social presence and engagement in games. When we understand what is happening in games, we may be in a better position to understand experiences in other interactive systems.

Errors in interactions

People make errors and, even with skill and training, occasional errors are unavoidable. However, there are aspects of the design of interactive devices that promote errors. I am interested in using small scale interactions to reveal the errors that people make and how good design can reduce them.

  • Thimbleby, H., Cairns, P. (2017) Interactive numerals. Royal Society Open Science, 4(4), online, doi: 10.1098/rsos.160903
  • Soboczenski, F., Hudson, M., Cairns, P. (2015) The Effects of Perceptual Interference on Number-Entry Errors.Interactive with Computers
  • Cairns, P., Pandab, P., Power, C. (2014) The influence of emotion on number entry errors, ACM CHI 2014, ACM Press, 2293-2296

Full list of publications