The Effects of Perceptual Interference on Number-Entry Errors

Frank Soboczenski*, Matthew Hudson, Paul Cairns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Safety critical number-entry tasks, such as programming syringe pumps, are common occurrences in healthcare settings. However, humans are prone to error and healthcare staff must often work in distracting and high stress environments. Previous work has developed a potential intervention that could reduce errors using a phenomenon called the Perceptual Interference Effect (PIE). In this paper, the numbers to be entered are presented in a hard-to-read form and experimental studies showed that this reduced the errors that people made. The aim of this paper is to investigate the robustness of this effect in the context of a distracting environment and therefore to begin to move towards investigating its efficacy in real-world settings. We report on an experiment, which uses auditory distractors alongside the PIE effect to investigate the effect on number-entry errors. The results are promising: the number of errors is significantly reduced by PIE and the rate of making errors is reduced though significance is marginal. Nonetheless, the results are suggestive that the PIE could work even in distracting circumstances though the isolation of this phenomenon in experimental studies is challenging. We explore the implications for future studies into this effect for eventual application in real-world contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-218
Number of pages11
JournalInteracting With Computers
Issue number2
Early online date2 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • disfluency
  • empirical studies in hci
  • human error
  • human-computer interaction (hci)
  • number-entry
  • perceptual interference

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