What Is Good Help? Responses to Solicited and Unsolicited Assistance

Shiri Bar-Or, Joachim Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Users rarely ask for help, and they tend to respond negatively to unsolicited help, even when they can benefit from it. It is not clear whether this is due to the way systems provide help or whether people in general dislike unsolicited help. To address this issue the authors studied responses to solicited and unsolicited help from a human adviser regarding the use of an unfamiliar e-mail system. Novice users (the advisees) received spoken advice from distant experienced users (the advisers) upon the advisee’s request (the “pull” condition”) or the adviser’s initiative (the “push” condition”). Unsolicited advice helped performance more than advice requested by the advisee, but only for unfamiliar tasks and especially for difficult tasks. Although advisees perceived unsolicited advice as helpful, they were not interested in receiving such advice in the future. This study demonstrates that although advice can help to improve performance, it may still not be welcome, even when provided by a person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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