Earcons versus auditory icons in communicating computing events: Learning and user preference

T S Amer, Todd L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article investigates the effectiveness and user preferences of auditory icons and earcons in communicating various computing events. A controlled data collection exercise revealed that participants more quickly learned the relationships between computing events and auditory icons than the relationships between the same computing events and earcons. Results from a second data collection exercise showed that participants not only preferred to hear earcons rather than auditory icons, but indicated that auditory icons would be more irritating after repeated hearings. Taken together, these results present an interesting conundrum for systems designers: The more effective mode of communication is less preferred by users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Human Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018



  • Annoyance
  • Auditory Display
  • Auditory Icons
  • Earcons
  • Irritation
  • Learning
  • User Preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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