Research

ECIS is a collaboration between three groups, each with their own research program:

Human-Technology Interaction

Keywords: Psychology, cognition, perception, human factor, human-computer-interaction

Research area
The HTI group contributes to the understanding of the role of humans in interaction with technology. It does so by building its research on a disciplinary foundation in the social sciences (mainly cognitive and social psychology, and perception). HTI research builds from these core disciplines and centers around fice main areas: human-computer interaction and affective computing, decision-making and human-data interaction, social psychology and persuasion, contextual environmental psychology, and human perception. At the heart of all HTI research lies an interest in the connection between social scientific disciplines as they apply to technological developments. For instance, HTI's human-computer interaction research focuses on the conceptualization and measurement of the human experience in relation to technological media. How can technology be seamlessly connected to human perceptions, congitions, emotions and actions? Research on (online) decision-making and human-data interaction focuses on how human interaction can be and is affected by the massice amounts of (online) information and on how to help humans make better sense of this information's hidden value. In HTI's research on social psychology and persuasion, we analyze how we can best convince humans to interact with technology in a collectively rational way, while research on contextual environmental psychology considers how technology can create the contextual conditions under which humans thrive. Research on human perception centers on how people see, hear and feel, and how this is related to and can be incorporated in the design and use of technology.

Thought these five areas may at first glance appear to be separate, they are in fact closely intertwined, and many projects and papers are written by researchers in more than just one area.
Research on recommender systems needs knowledge about social psychology, persuasion, an human-computer interaction; and research on the effects of light on well-being needs knowledge about perception and affect, to name just a couple of examples. HTI has psychologists with a keen interest in and knowledge of technology, and the conviction that behavioral sciences can create value for a society suffused with technology, but only when based on a sound theoretical and careful methodological approach. As a group, we reflect on disciplinary methodology and interventions, and attempt to improve both, particularly - though not necessarily only - through the use of technology.

HTI research benefits from the availability of its lab facilities (the "HTI-lab"), which include opportunities to run studies on virtual reality (VirTUE/e lab), auditory perception (AudLab), gaming (GameXPLab), lighting (LightingLab), and general psychological lab resources. HTI also hosts its own panel of participants and a dedicated system ("ARCHIE") that enables an experiment to be run with HTI's experiment committee, and takes care of storing the results of all the experiments.

Contribution to the School
The HTI group studies technology and its relationship with humans, effectively bringing "the human focus" to the School's rearch mission. HTI concentrates on expertise in both the social sciences (mainly cognitive and social psychology, and perception) and engineering, studying technology and how it relates to humans and human well-being. The group's output is characterized by the fact that it develops and contributes to new scientific niches at the crossroads between humans and technology, such as regarding persuasion and social robotics, affective computing, internet science, intelligent lighting and systems. It also contributes to its core disciplinary domains, reflecting on theory, methodology, and research strategy in general.

Philosophy & Ethics

Keywords: Applied ethics, epistemology, meta-ethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of technology

Research area
The Philosophy & Ethics (P&E) group research mission is to carry out philosophical research at the interface between fundamental philosophical issues and real-world problems that arise from the design and use of innovative technologies. Our guiding idea is that the analysis of many real-world problems concerning technology requires a philosophical perspective; and that these problems in turn inspire a substantial modification and extension of existing philosophical methods and theories. Philosophical analysis in these areas should be informed by ans can in turn be informative for design practices and for research on the social, psychological and economic mechanisms that underlie innovation processes. Hence, interdisciplinary cooperation is vital for carrying out our research.

Research in the P&E group covers various areas where fundamental philosophical issues and technology-related-real-world problems intertwine. Within philosophy, our expertise lies in a variety of sub-disciplines: normative ethics, meta-ethics, philosophy of science, epistemology. In our research, reflection on technology-related problems and technological innovations should go beyond the application of existing frameworks: we seek substantial changes to existing theories such as consequentialism, frameworks for responsible innovation, or the extended-mind hypothesis; or the development of entirely new frameworks, such as the ethical design cycle, and theories of technical functions and of engineering knowledge. Moreover, we work on fundamental critical assessments of technology-related work in various sciences, and of programs in engineering disciplines. Examples are assessments of climate modelling, of theories and models of cultural evolution; of the use of persuasive technologies, of social robotics, and of advances in medical and mobility technologies.

Characteristic of our work in this broad range of areas is a direct engagement with work in the natural, engineering and social sciences. Innovative technologies and technology-related problems are not used merely as a source of illustrations of philosophical views, but studied in detail to enable genuinely 'empirically informed' analyses that are meaningful to philosophers, to researchers in other areas, and to society. For this purpose, close interdisciplinary collaborations have been established, in particular with researchers from other groups in the School IS, as well as with mechanical engineers, climate scientists, and archaeologists, among others.

Contributions to the School
In the context of School IS's research mission, the P&E group provides an explicitly normative (ethical; epistemological-methodological) perspective. This includes evaluations of the effects of technology on individual humans and society. - such as the ethical admissibility of persuasive technologies - and of the theories and methods used to study the interaction between humans, society and technology - such as cultural-evolutionary theory. Characteristic is, again, that these evaluations are developed as much as possible in close interaction with researchers in other disciplines, rather than from an 'outsider' perspective.

Technology, Innovation & Society

Keywords: Transitions, economics of innovation, sustinability, history of technology

Research area
The Technology, Innovation & Society (TIS) group engages in research on the societal and economic embedding of innovation. Technological innovations offer many opportunities to address key societal challenges in areas like sustainable energy, mobility, globalization and Europeanization. However, change is not only about the mere availability of such innovative technologies (like renewable energy technologies or cleaner cars), but rather requieres a transformation of existing socio-technical systems. This includes changes in firm strategies, consumer behavior, social practices, institutions and regulations, etc. Different aspects of such transition processes cannot be studied in isolation, but require a broader, systems-oriented perspective. In our view, society shapes tehnological progress, but technological progress also shapes our society. Technologies intertwine with radical transformations in work, travel, communication, and private life.

The TIS group aims to contribute to understanding the above phenomena through research that:

  • focuses on the interaction between technological, economic, and social developments
  • emphasizes pervasive, long term changes or 'transitions'
  • addresses the developed as well as the developing world
  • addresses multiple aspects of the innovation journey - invention, innovation, diffusion, appropriation, governance, policy intervention, and societal implications.

Our focus is well reflected in our research output in scholarly journals in the 201-2016 period: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (11 times), Technological forecasting and social change (10), Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions (10), Research Policy (9), Energy Policy (9), Environmental Science and Policy (7), PLos ONE (3), Industrial and Corporate Change (3) and Industry and Innovation (3).

Contribution to the School
In the context of the School's research mission, the TIS group contributes to the understanding of innovations and transitions by conducting theoretical as well as qualitative and quantitative research. We do so by building our research on a combination of theorretical perspectives, including evolutionary economics and STS, and by looking at the historical, institutional, legal and user perspectives. In the past six years, the TIS group has made significant contributions to theory development and refinement (notable strategic niche management and multi-level perspective), as well as qualitative and quantitative research in the area of innovation and trasitions. The involvement of societal groups and end users has been key in many of our studies, and has also resulted in new research methodologies and approaches. We have also contributed to policy development, for instance through Transition Management. For the coming years, our aim is to further build the link with technology (smart energy systems, mobility, etc.) and to apply our theoretical foundations to address sustainability challenges and creating appropriate governance / policy.