Workshop@ACM SIGCHI 2015

How WEIRD is HCI? Extending HCI Principles to other Countries and Cultures


Christian Sturm, Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Alice Oh, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea

Sebastian Linxen, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

Jose Abdelnour-Nocera, University of West London, UK

Susan Dray, Dray & Associates, Inc., USA

Katharina Reinecke, University of Michigan, USA

Dates - Deadlines - Submission

Workshop: Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Please submit:

Deadline for position paper and questionnaire: Monday, January 19th, 2015

Notification of Acceptance: February 2nd, 2015


Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) studies often rely on findings based on research with WEIRD participants (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic). A large majority of articles published at prominent HCI venues reports on studies with these characteristics, ignoring that these results might not apply to other populations. This workshop has two main goals: (1) to identify influential HCI principles and findings that might not apply to other countries and cultures, and (2) to determine how HCI researchers can extend these findings by involving more diverse subject populations.
The workshop aims to establish collaborations between HCI researchers that work towards improving the external validity of findings in HCI and related areas.


In recent years, researchers in psychology and economics have increasingly called for more diverse subject populations [1]. Summarizing contradictory findings between different human populations in various domains such as visual perception, analytic reasoning or problem-solving strategies, it has been observed that these research results are not broadly representative [2] [3]. In fact, findings in psychology are almost exclusively based on American undergraduates and other WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) subjects. Human-Computer Interaction researchers often build on these findings, thus designing technology that is optimized for WEIRD people. Moreover, a large majority of articles published at prominent HCI venues such as CHI and CSCW also reports on studies with WEIRD participants, ignoring that the results might not apply to other subject populations. This workshop aims to have the following two main outcomes: (1) A list of major principles that HCI researchers often build on and that are unlikely to apply to users in other countries and cultures. (2) An action plan that describes how we can extend these previous findings, such as by collaborating across countries and cultures, conducting large-scale online experiments, or creating a culture of replications and extensions with more diverse subject populations.

Pre-Workshop Activities

We will create a website for the workshop and announce it on mailing lists as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, we will contact and invite submissions directly from the diverse range of researchers who have worked on HCI topics across countries and cultures. To increase the effectiveness and efficiency during the workshop, we will start relevant discussions already prior to the event by posting influential HCI papers to our website and discussing potential differences in results with other participant populations online.

Plan and Timetable for the Workshop

This will be a one-day workshop with two sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon. It starts with a short introduction to the topic by the workshop organizers followed by a group activity to cluster the obstacles identified for extending the user population of HCI studies cross-culturally. Participants will be split into smaller groups for the second session in the morning. The groups will work on the identification of studies in HCI that would need to be considered for a cross-cultural extension. The third session continues in groups and aims to systematically link the studies to the aspects identified in the first session. The goal for the wrap-up session at the end is to develop a research agenda for the cross-cultural replication of studies in HCI. The box on the left shows the sequence planned for the workshop.

Participant Selection and Target Audience

The goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers and industry practitioners with a diverse cultural background and extensive experience in conducting user research internationally and cross-culturally. The audience should be engaged in the issues of globalization, internationalization and localization of products, systems, and services while focusing on cultural issues of technology and user experience. Participants will be selected by the organizers according to the aim of getting people together with different cultural, working and scientific backgrounds as well as based on the participants' prior experience in the field. The participants should be able to contribute to the workshop through their previous work in conducting HCI studies cross-culturally as well as identifying existing paradigms in HCI that might be necessary to be replicated in different cultural settings. Anyone interested in joining the workshop is asked to submit a position paper on the subject matter or a fill out a questionnaire (see link above). The paper should be of maximum 4 pages. It should include (1) the author’s prior work in the field of cross-cultural HCI, (2) issues that decrease the external validity of HCI studies and (3) a list of prominent HCI studies that should be reviewed regarding their generalizability.

Workshop Outcome

The workshop aims to build a community and create a shared body of knowledge around the external validity of HCI studies. We plan to disseminate the results with the help of an article on the workshop’s website as well as the "spotlight on workshops" poster presentations.


[1] Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33(2-3): 61-83

[2] Reinecke, K., Nguyen, M. K., Bernstein, A., Näf, M. and Gajos, G.. (2013). Doodle around the world: online scheduling behavior reflects cultural differences in time perception and group decision-making. In Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 45-54.

[3] Suchman, L. (2002). Located accountabilities in technology production. Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 14(2), 7.