CHI Workshop: Expectations and Placebos: Introducing Placebo Control as an Standard for Evaluating Technologies

CHI Workshop: Expectations and Placebos: Introducing Placebo Control as an Standard for Evaluating Technologies


A sugar pill is an example of a placebo. It makes a patient feel better without giving them any active drugs or doing any specific procedure. The mechanism of effect relies on the patient’s expectation of the placebo’s effectiveness, which results in a positive evaluation after treatment and at times in objective physiological changes. In HCI, user study participants know the new system or method and can tell the difference between the experimental conditions. Instructions might even explicitly describe the evaluated systems’ enhanced usability or user experience and, hence, set participants’ expectations. Thus, a placebo effect in HCI would consist of a participant’s favorable evaluation of effectiveness after the interaction. This workshop helps researchers and practitioners control for the placebo effect and sets new standards for evaluating usability and user experience in HCI.

Workshop Format

In order to make participation in our workshop possible for those who are still unable to physically attend CHI due to financial or logistical or other constraints, we will use a physical model with a streaming option. The workshop will be a one-day event comprised of two blocks. The first block will establish the workshop’s framework and foundation, including theoretical background and a keynote. The second block will consist of participant presentations, followed by a round of feedback for each presentation.

Preliminary Schedule


Submission Process

Submissions should be in the two-column ACM format and no more than three pages long, not counting references. The talks and presentations will be in-person but recorded and uploaded on our website. Participants will be selected based on the merit of their contribution to the workshop. We encourage authors to make their research available on arXiv after the workshop. At least one author of each accepted submission must attend the workshop. All participants must register for the workshop and at least one conference day. We solicit the following types of submissions: position papers or research statements. Your position paper can address the topic of the placebo effect in general or demonstrate how a placebo control is being used (or planned to be used) in your own experimental design.

Submit your contribution in (To be added)

Important Dates

Submission DeadlineTBD
Notification to AuthorsTBD
Workshop dateTBD


Steeven Villa - LMU Munich

Steeven Villa is a Ph.D. Student in human-computer interaction at LMU Munich (GER), where he studies the limits of human augmentation. Previously, he researched how to create realistic haptic sensations in VR and AR using wearable devices at the Rainbow Team from INRIA (FRA). He has also researched mid-air ultrasound haptics, computer graphics, and the UFRGS (BRA). His research involves conceptualizing and developing novel technologies to enhance human natural cognitive, motor, and sensory skills and evaluating the societal and behavioral implications of such augmentation technologies

Thomas Kosch - HU Berlin

Thomas Kosch is a professor of Human-Computer Interaction Group at the Humboldt University of Berlin. His research focuses on implicit AI-driven physiological interfaces, user sensing, and user state predictions for human augmentation. Before, he was a professor at the Human-Centered Computing Group at Utrecht University and a postdoctoral researchers at TU Darmstadt, where he was conceptualizing physiological interaction and unobtrusive user sensing. He is experienced in designing user studies, quantitative and qualitative methods, machine learning, and prototyping.

Alena Denisova - University of York

Alena Denisova is Lecturer at the university of York since 2022. Previously she worked at the University of London as Lecturer. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of York. Her research interest include My research interests include: Understanding and improving player experience of video games, Developing and evaluating tools and methods for researching interactive experiences and Designing and evaluating educational and persuasive interactive media, including video games.

Kristen Vaccaro - University of California San Diego

Kristen Vaccaro is Assistant Profesor at the University of California San Diego. Her work considers how to design the algorithmic experience of machine learning systems. She is especially interested in questions about user understanding, agency and control, justice, and policy. She has experience in social computing applications (like news feed curation and content moderation)

Yannick Weiss - LMU Munich

Yannick Weiss is a Ph.D. student at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich (GER). His research interests surround haptics in and for mixed reality, from understanding haptic perception to creating and adapting haptic experiences for virtual and augmented reality interfaces. He is currently working on the research project "Illusionary Surface Interfaces", where he is investigating the possibilities of sensory illusions to enrich haptic and tangible experiences.

Robin Welsch - Aalto University

Robin Welsch is a an assistant professor at Aalto University, FI, researching human-computer interaction to improve theories and methods in engineering psychology. His current research interests include AR/VR, artificial intelligence, and human augmentation. Before joining Aalto University, he was an interim professor of General Psychology and Human Factors at TU Chemnitz, GER, worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Human-Centered Ubiquitous Media group at LMU Munich, GER, and was a visiting scientist at VU Amsterdam, NL. He received his PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Mainz, GER, in 2020.

Suggested Papers

The Placebo Effect

Placebo Effect in HCI

Last update: 4/8/2023, 7:53:37 PM
Contributors: Steeven Villa