Date of Award

Summer 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

Raymond H. Kirby

Committee Member

Fred Freeman

Committee Member

Jeffrey Hendrickson


The present study was conducted in two phases to determine design tradeoffs relating to command bar menu and bypass code-based techniques for interacting with computers. Forty eight subjects participated. In the first phase of the experiment, mouse-, chorded key-, and function key-based menu selection techniques were compared. It was found that menus were accessed much faster with spatially mapped function keys as compared to chorded key sequences or mouse inputs, and that relative to mouse inputs compatible letter keys lead to faster command selection times. Further, the function key-based technique yielded the fastest combined access and selection times, the fastest block completion times, and the fewest errors. In the second phase of the experiment, four experimental conditions were produced by crossing two menu input devices (i.e., mouse and keyboard) with two bypass coding structures (i.e., function key-based codes and chorded key-based codes). It was found that the groups which used function key-based codes entered the menu designating portion of the bypass codes faster than those that used chorded key-based codes. The coding structure based on spatially mapped function keys also yielded faster task completion times. Furthermore, there were fewer command substitution errors with this coding structure. Comparisons between the groups with no prior exposure to the code sequences (i.e., the groups that used the mouse to make menu selections during the first phase) revealed that the function key-based technique also led to fewer command ommissions and fewer extraneous command selections. Finally, subjective data showed menus were felt to be easier to learn, less demanding in terms of mental resources, and less anxiety provoking than bypass codes. In contrast, bypass codes were felt to be more natural, more convenient to use, and faster in terms of task times and better in terms of task performance. The findings of this study clearly indicate that both menu- and bypass code-based styles of control should be provided to promote user acceptance. Furthermore, the performance advantages observed for the function key-based technique point to it as the menu selection and bypass technique of choice.


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