You are here:

The interface design preferences of compulsive computer users

, Pepperdine University, United States

Pepperdine University . Awarded


This study sought to determine if computer addicts find particular visual or mechanical elements within software interfaces desirable or undesirable. The importance of determining if such preferences exist was the result of identifying a lack of research addressing how computer addicts interact with their computers while engaged in addictive activities. Prior to this investigation, very little study had been undertaken outside of research focused on the psychological and/or sociological aspects of online addiction. Developing foci outside the perspective of psychology becomes important as more is learned about computer addiction so that other disciplines (education, business, human resources, etc.) may benefit from a wider foundation of knowledge than has been established regarding computer addiction, to date. The study draws an important distinction between addict preferences in regard to interface design and addictive behaviors. No attempt was made to comment on addictive behaviors, the causes of addiction, or what factors contribute to addiction.

The study used a qualitative strategy and primarily employed a 3 round Delphi technique for data collection and set out to answer the question, “Are there particular visual or mechanical elements within software interfaces that computer addicts find desirable or undesirable?” The study was conducted entirely online over the course of approximately a 2 month period.

The results of the study suggest that online computer addicts (Internet addicts) do, indeed, seem to share some common preferences in regard to software interface design. For example, there appear to be a wide range of individual interface design elements computer addicts wish to be able to interact with while engaged in online activities. Additionally, participants indicated preferences for stable, easily customizable interface designs; program stability; and simple, standardized aesthetics built into the software programs they use.

In addition to information obtained regarding the interface design preferences of the participants, data which supports and contradicts previous studies regarding the demographics of computer addicts became available and was examined. An online, web based questioning tool created specifically for use in this study, which allowed participants to be truly anonymous throughout the multiple rounds of the Delphi, was also developed.


Phillips, T.P. The interface design preferences of compulsive computer users. Ph.D. thesis, Pepperdine University. Retrieved May 21, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or