Conflict resolution initial findings #1: which values and norms matter the most when it comes to sharing location?

I’m still quite busy analyzing the large dataset (~1600 cases) collected from the conflict resolution online user study conducted earlier this year. Before delving into detailed model building, and findings related to specific types of normative conflicts, I thought I’d present two simple yet quite clear findings that appeared upon the initial inspection of the data:

1. Which of the five values in the experiment were found to matter the most, in the general sense?

We have asked participants to use a pie chart to indicate, in the general sense, and assuming a role (either a parent or a child), their preference for five human values that we found to matter the most in the location sharing domain. Below was the description we provided for these values.

Friendship: for you, or your family members to build friendships, a social life, and be recognized amongst others in the social circle.

Privacy: for you, or your family members to be free from unwanted outside intrusion, and undesirably shared information.

Safety: for you, or your family members to be free from dangers or harm.

Independence: for you, or your family members to be capable of doing what they need to do without other’s control or support.

Responsibility: for you, or your family members to know and be able to do the tasks they’re expected to do.

The pie chart below shows how, on average, users ranked the importance of these values:


What I find interesting is that (1) the fact that there was a significant preference for some values over others and (2) that privacy, long considered a pivotal value in social data sharing (especially location!), was ranked lowest. Now, the domain of the experiment is indeed family life, so that makes this finding a little less surprising, yet still interesting as privacy ranked last amongst all five values, not just second to safety, the expected winner.

2. Obligations vs. Prohibitions (to share and receive data)?

Throughout the experiment we asked participants to create conflicting normative statements regarding sharing and receiving location, and we then asked them to indicate their preference (and by how much, using a slider), in the case a conflict occurs. Now, a conflict always included an obligation commitment (e.g. I want someone to share/receive data with/from me/somebody else under some circumstances), and a prohibition (e.g. I want someone to not share/receive data with/from me/somebody else under some circumstances). Again, before going into details on predicting user preference using statistical models, another simple yet clear finding presented itself upon early data inspection:


Data here was modified so that all obligations are to the left side (negative values), and all prohibitions are to the right side (positive values). In the experiment itself the order of course was random. We can see that there is a clear tendency for obligations of sharing and receiving data to be preferred to prohibitions. If we make this discrete, obligations were preferred around 63% of the time:


So, and without drawing any detailed conclusion yet, these two simple findings could alone increase prediction accuracy in conflict resolution in location sharing, by quite some margin.

Experiment: can human values be used as predictors for solving user-created normative conflicts?

Motivation and objective

Previously we showed that social commitment models could play an important role into making social applications more adaptive/intelligent, and better promote user values in that domain. However, social commitments are norm-based, conflicts may occur and they need to be resolved.

Many conflict resolution approaches exist in literature, but they are rather concerned with the “how” rather than the “why”, i.e. how to implement a certain conflict resolution policy, rather than what that policy contains. We are proposing that, given a user’s value profile (i.e. order and/or preference of a number of relevant values), and how that user believes certain commitment are relevant to the same set of values, that we can predict the user’s preferred solution if a conflict is to occur involving any two of these commitments. The importance of this is that, assuming we were able to predict the correct solution for a majority of conflicts, that social media platforms can use contextual data to automatically solve conflicts between privacy/newsfeed settings created by the user in the future.

Relevant values

Using Rokeach’s value survey as a basis, we select a sample of potentially relevant values. This is not meant to be comprehensive list of all values possibly involved. The interpretation of these values here is generalized, and participants may as well project their own interpretation over the ones provided.

• Safety (Rokeach: family security)
For one or members of one’s own family to be safe from dangers or harm.

• Independence/freedom
For one, or members of one’s own family to be capable of doing what they need to do on their own, without being dependent on others.

• Social recognition/friendship
For one or members of one’s own family to build true friendships, a social life, and be recognized or distinguished amongst others in their social circle.

• Privacy (not in Rokeach’s list but relevant)
For one or members of one’s own family to have important information about them only shared with those they agree to share it with.

• Responsibility
For one or members of one’s own family to act responsibly in situations where that is required.

• Peace of mind (Rokeach: inner harmony)
For one or members of one’s own family to live with few or no worries and/or disturbances.

Hypotheses/research questions

H1: users’ value profiles in addition to how they believe certain commitments relate to their values can predict/explain the preferred conflict solution.

RQ2: will users have preferences regarding conflict solutions that deviate significantly from the “no difference” point?

RQ3: Is there an association between the agreement type (i.e. its elements) and the value profile associated to it? (E.g. location and privacy)

RQ4: users will have no significant preference for one value over another in their value profile.

…to be continued.


Critical Alternatives 2015 conference, Aarhus, Denmark.

Just back from Aarhus (and a weekend in Copenhagen), it was the 2nd time I visit Denmark. I attended the Critical Alternatives conference, 2015 edition. This conference is special in two ways: first, it is held once every 10 years! And second, the type of work presented there is quite novel, visionary, and out of the box.

On Monday I participated in the Charting the next decades for VSD workshop. There was a short, 2-minute presentation for everyone as an introductory round in the morning, and afterward the workshop took the shape of workgroups of 4-5 people and a presentation afterwards. Discussions during the workshop were very insightful.

The Conference on Wednesday/Thursday had plenty of interesting talks, including the keynote by Telekommunisten, the talks in the session on privacy, and the discussion with Frider Nake for example. Notably, the conference dinner took place in the old Aarhus train station turned industrial space. Very artistic place to say the least. See photos of the conference below!

aarhus 2015 (60)

Paper accepted to Value-Sensitive Design workshop!

Got my paper “Effects of conflict resolution strategies in normative frameworks on user values: a proposed study” accepted at the Charting the Next Decade for Value-Sensitive Design workshop , which is going to be held in conjunction with the decennial conference on Critical Alternatives 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark. You can get the accepted paper here.

It will be very interesting to meet the VSD (value-sensitive design) enthusiasts from all over the world, especially from the University of Washington where it all originated more than 20 years ago. I will also be looking forward towards the feedback that I will get on my proposed conflict resolution user study.

Designing a questionnaire to quantifiably measure user values (2)

Finally the panel of 11 experts have all sent their responses back regarding the content validity of our proposed questionnaire in here. We ended up with 7 values with at least one relevant item. For an item to qualify as relevant to a value, 9 out of the 11 as per this method need to have ticked the corresponding box in the matrix (as either essential or useful). You can see in this table the final result, i.e. the matrix of questionnaire items (in Dutch) and which values are supposed to be relevant.

Designing a questionnaire to quantifiably measure user values

Well I’m developing a questionnaire now! It would be quite the first of its kind to “quantify” values, or how far a certain value is fulfilled anyway, for a certain user. We have chosen a number of values that we felt are relevant to the research domain, including, using Rokeach’s terminology (1973):

  • Social recognition: to be (mainly, as a child) socially involved and accepted by other children.
  • Family security: that the members of a family are safe and free from harm.
  • Independence: to be (mainly, as a child) capable of doing certain things without constant supervision from elders.
  • Freedom: to be (mainly, as a child) capable of doing certain things without explicit permission from (or consultaion with) elders.
  • Inner harmony: peace of mind and having no worries especially about children, and other family related issues (mainly as a parent).
  • A comfortable life: to have (mainly as a parent) less trouble in life, especially with raising children.
  • An exciting life: (for both parents and children) to have a life filled with interesting (mainly social) events.
  • Friendship: (mainly taken from a child’s perspective), to have valuable friendships with peers.

Currently creating items that are supposed to be able to measure some of these values. They will be sent out to a panel of experts for a Content Validity Analysis, so we can decide which items go and which items stay, in terms of each of these values. More on this to follow!

Paper accepted for the 2013 COIN@AAMAS workshop!

Got my paper “Norms for Electronic Partners in Socio-geographical Support: A Grounded Model” accepted at the COIN workshop, which stands for Coordination, Organization, Institutions and Norms.

An early drawing version of the grounded model in the paper's title.

An early drawing version of the grounded model in the paper’s title.

This series of workshops has been organized in conjunction with AAMAS, AAAI, and other major conferences in AI every year since 2006, on an average of 2 times a year. It discusses the “the engineering of effective regulatory mechanisms” according to the official description. Looking forward to presenting and discussing my paper with the pioneers of this research field in May!

Qualitative data analysis using Grounded Theory

Have spent quite some time with qualitative data analysis, using the data collected from my focus groups data here, Grounded Theory, and NVivo software (which we luckily had a license for at the group). Using the 50+ page data of audio transcripts from the three focus groups, I’ve done several rounds of (open, selective, and axial) coding, which ended with a “tree of codes” grouped into themes or categories. These themes represent quite well the social context of the family life domain in the area where we did these user studies. Check out the “tree of codes” below.