What we talk about when we talk about auditory experiences: A holistic tool for describing and evaluating auditory user experiences

Ruth Sørensen

Publikation: Bog / Antologi / Rapport / Ph.D.-afhandlingPh.d.-afhandling


This dissertation illustrates how a philosophical interpretive understanding of human experience can provide a robust foundation for interpreting, describing and structuring auditory user experiences.
In the first part of the thesis, I concentrate on why a comprehensive and holistic outlook for
describing experiential structures is essential when inquiring into user experiences. I suggest
Husserl's phenomenological description of consciousness and experience as the philosophical foundation for my experiential explorations. Subsequently, ontological and epistemological assumptions of Husserl's phenomenology are investigated, focusing on the ideas of intentionality and perception. Since my research focuses on auditory interaction design, I examine these concepts in terms of their implication for auditory user experiences and present them as an experiential
In the second part of the thesis, I explore ways to make the investigated philosophical concepts
applicable in a design process. In a pragmatic manner, I transform the experiential framework into an operable model for describing, analysing and evaluating auditory user experiences. The thesis closes with empirical explorations, which is considered primarily as an illustration of the practical application of the research conclusions.
My research project is motivated by an observed need for a theoretically grounded design tool
for articulating, analysing and evaluating auditory experiences within the field of Human-Computer Interaction and Interaction Design that takes on a holistic view on our auditory experiences and ways of expressing these experiences.
In the past decade, we have experienced a growing interest within various audio-based research and design fields in understanding user experiences from a broader perspective than a sole focus on usability, psycho-acoustical and physical stimuli-response measurements. However, even though musicology has a long history of research into auditory experiences, only a few resources within the field of auditory interaction design exist on how to approach user experiences from a holistic perspective that includes both engineering and non-engineering, as well as acoustic and nonacoustic,
experiential qualities.
To describe auditory experiences from a holistic viewpoint, a broad understanding of human
listening that includes both bodily and cognitive experiential processes is crucial.
Thus, the fundamental question pursued throughout the thesis is how to develop and formalise a comprehensive philosophical description of listening and experiential structures into a practical tool for interaction designers and researchers to describe, analyse and evaluate direct sound-based experiences.
In the present study, I consider listening as an active sense-making activity that is both
subjective and multidimensional, and listening experiences as being depended on not only context, but also on prior experiences, anticipations, and hearing capability. Hence, the claim is that the same sound can be experienced in various ways depending on the listening focus, listening mode and listening context, and these three interrelated factors are present in any listening situation.
This description and structuring of human listening propose a comprehensive way to reflect, describe, analyse and evaluate auditory user experiences. The resulting product of the thesis has been shaped through a collaboration with the UX team of a large global hearing aid company and evaluated among UX professionals, a research engineer and Innovation Manager from leading companies within the audio manufacturing and service industry, and the process demonstrates how philosophical concepts can be utilised in an actual design process.
ForlagIT-Universitetet i København
Antal sider237
StatusUdgivet - 2020