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The Art of Touch: The Psychology of Touch Screen Interaction

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

As technology continues to evolve, so does the way we interact with it.

Touchscreen technology has become an everyday part of our lives, from smartphones and tablets to interactive self-serve checkouts and public displays. Creating these seamless touchscreen experiences may seem fairly straightforward, but it requires more than just technical expertise - you need an understanding of human behaviour and psychology too.

The psychology of interaction with touch screens is a pretty interesting topic, and this article will explore the key points.

The Importance of User-Centered Design

Effective interactive touchscreens always begin with a user-centred approach.

One of the key principles of the psychology of interaction is that users are more likely to engage with technology when it's designed to be intuitive and easy to use. Less is usually always more.

This means designing with the end user in mind, with clear instructions and cues to guide users through the experience. The interface should work in a way that makes sense to the user and meets their expectations; understanding cognitive load is also relevant to this. Cognitive load is the amount of mental effort required to complete a task or interaction. Simplifying the interface reduces the user's cognitive load, leading to a more efficient and enjoyable experience.

Let's not forget other sensory inputs too. Sound effects and music can be used to create a more engaging and immersive experience, such as using sound effects to indicate when the user has completed a task. Similarly, haptic feedback (such as the vibration of a smartphone) can provide a tactile sensation that enhances the user's experience too.

A collage of images. The first image shows a man drawing a diagram on a touchscreen for colleagues . The second is a finger touching an image on a touchscreen. The third shows a touchscreen table with a person moving credit cards around on the screen. The fourth shows a man using a circular dial and object recognition to control a touchscreen. The fifth is two woman sharing the same touchscreen table to collaborate. The sixth is a small touchscreen tablet in a property marketing suite.

The Emotional Connection of Touch Screens

Take a second to think of a time you enjoyed engaging with a touchscreen and a time you didn't. What made the difference? For many, satisfaction from a touchscreen is related to an emotional response. You're more likely to engage with something for longer if it makes you feel happy, excited or fulfilled - and touchscreen technology is no different.

This highlights the need to create experiences that are emotionally engaging, using techniques such as storytelling, gamification and personalisation. The touchscreen itself plays a part too.

According to a study by Eindhoven University of Technology, touch screens engage users on a more emotional level than other devices. This emotional connection can be attributed to the tactile nature of touch screens, which allow users to physically interact with the interface.

Additionally, touch screens enable more natural gestures, such as swiping, tapping, and pinching. These gestures mimic real-world interactions, making them easier for users to understand and execute. This physical interaction can also create a sense of ownership and control.

Learning through Interaction

Talking of learning, human brains are wired to process information through experience and engagement. When we engage with information in a hands-on way, such as through touchscreen experiences, we activate multiple areas of the brain simultaneously, including the sensory, motor and cognitive areas. This allows us to process and retain information more effectively.

The principle underpinning this is known as "active learning." Active learning is the process of engaging with information in an active way, as opposed to passively receiving information through reading or listening. It goes a long way towards explaining why touch screens are a powerful tool for education and training.

Young school girl in a blue dress smiles widely while touching an interactive touchscreen in a classroom.

Community is Key

Finally, it's important to consider the social aspect of user behaviour too. Humans are social creatures and thrive on social interaction, which explains why people are more inclined to engage with technology that allows them to connect with others.

Be it a teacher to their students or a salesperson to a buyer, touchscreen experiences encourage collaboration by providing a shared platform for interaction. For example, multiple users can interact with the same touchscreen simultaneously, allowing for collaboration on a shared project or activity. This type of collaborative interaction encourages communication and the exchange of ideas.


In conclusion, understanding user behaviour and psychology is essential for creating effective touchscreen experiences.

A user-centred interactive is a powerful tool in your business toolkit - and we'd love to talk to you about how we can make it happen. If you're curious about interactives, you know who to call.

You can contact us via or give us a call on 0204 537 8844.

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