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The effect of apologetic error messages and mood states on computer users’ self-appraisals of performances and actual performances

Akgün, Mahir
The main aim of this study, in which 310 university students participated, is to investigate whether or not computer interfaces offering human-like apologetic error messages influence users’ self-appraisals of performances and actual performances in the computerized environment. For the study, an online instructional material which includes deliberate design problems leading to user frustration was developed. The study is comprised of three phases. In the first phase, based on the CCSARP (Cross-Cultural Study of Speech Act Realization Patterns) coding manual and the studies conducted with the framework provided by the manual, apology strategy sequences were elicited from Turkish participants. Two of these apology strategy sequences were selected for producing two apology error messages. In addition to these apology messages, one plain computer error message was also developed for experimental control. The second phase of the study was conducted to determine whether these three messages were perceived as apologies. It was found out that the two apology messages were perceived as apologies and the plain computer message was not perceived as an apology. In the third phase these three messages were used to investigate the relationship between mood, self-appraisal of performance and actual performance after the transmission of the apologetic error messages. The findings of this study show that the frequencies of apology strategies preferred in the computerized environment are similar with those utilized in the social context. Statistical analyses also reveal that the influence of apology messages on self-appraisal of performance depends on participants’ mood state and the contents of the apology messages.