We discuss the impact of cultural differences on usability evaluations that are based on the thinking-aloud method (TA). The term ‘cultural differences’ helps distinguish differences in the perception and thinking of Westerners (people from Western Europe and US citizens with European origins) and Easterners (people from China and the countries heavily influenced by its culture). We illustrate the impact of cultural cognition on four central elements of TA: (1) instructions and tasks, (2) the user’s verbalizations, (3) the evaluator’s reading of the user, and (4) the overall relationship between user and evaluator. In conclusion, we point to the importance of matching the task presentation to users’ cultural background, the different effects of thinking aloud on task performance between Easterners and Westerners, the differences in nonverbal behaviour that affect usability problem detection, and, finally, the complexity of the overall relationship between user and evaluator when they have different cultural backgrounds.
Clemmensen, Torkil; Hertzum, Morten; Hornbaek, Kasper; Shi, Qingzin; and Yammiyavar, Pradeep, "Cultural Cognition in the Thinking-Aloud Method for Usability Evaluation" (2008). ICIS 2008 Proceedings. 189.