Explanations from knowledge-based systems and cooperative problem solving: an empirical study

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Explanations are expected to play an important role when knowledge-based systems are used for cooperative problem solving. In this context both human and machine contribute to the procedures, constraints and strategies used in the problem-solving process. An increased need for explanations in this context is congruent with a cognitive-effort perspective and the Production Paradox observed with on-line help systems. This article describes an investigation of the role of explanations in cooperative problem solving. An experimental field study was performed with 41 users and an operational system for personal financial planning. The experiment showed a requirement for cooperative problem solving was associated with greater use of explanations. This effect was more marked with those users who had more fully explored the use of explanations during a preliminary stage of guided problem solving. The frequency of use of explanations in total was positively related to problem-solving performance. There was some evidence that the positive relationship between explanations and improved performance was more noticeable when problems requiring cooperation were undertaken.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-105
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


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