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Steffen Werner

Associate Professor


Student Health Center 008A

Mailing Address

Department of Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho MS 3043
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3043

Steffen Werner's research interests are in visual and spatial cognition, virtual environments, human factors and applied cognitive psychology. He has created the website "," which provides educational resources for the field of cognitive neuroscience.

  • Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, University of Goettingen, 1994
  • M.S., Experimental Psychology, University of Goettingen, 1991
  • Pre-diploma Mathematics, University of Goettingen, 1989
  • Pre-diploma Psychology, University of Goettingen, 1989

Steffen Werner received his undergraduate and graduate education in mathematics and experimental psychology at the University of Goettingen, Germany. As a post-doctoral researcher at professor Molly Potter’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he investigated visual attention and memory. After his return to the University of Goettingen, Werner worked on questions related to human spatial cognition and navigation. In 2000, he joined the University of Idaho’s Department of Psychology and its human factors graduate program. His main current research interests focus on both applied questions like the design of in-car map displays, general automotive user interfaces, situation awareness in process control and new password systems, and basic questions regarding visual and spatial cognition. He has also created, which is intended to provide educational resources for educators and students in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

  • Human-Machine Interaction
  • User Experience/Usability
  • Automotive User Interfaces
  • Applied Cognitive Psychology
  • Spatial & Visual Cognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • educational website development

  • Werner, S. (2014). The Steering Wheel as a Touch Interface: Using Thumb-Based Gesture Interfaces as Control Inputs While Driving. AutomotiveUI'14 Adjunct, Sep 17-19 2014, Seattle, WA, USA. ACM 978-1-4503-0725-3/14/09.
  • Werner, S. & Hoover, C. (2012). Cognitive approaches to password memorability – the possible role of story-based passwords. In Proceedings of the HFES 56th Annual Meeting, Boston, October 22-26, 2012.
  • Johnson, K. & Werner, S. (2008). Graphical User Authentication – A comparative evaluation of Composite Scene Authentication (CSA) vs. three competing graphical passcode systems (Passfaces, VIP, PassPoints). In Proceedings of the 52nd annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Baltimore, MD.
  • Jacobson, J. & Werner, S. (2004). Why cast shadows are expendable: Insensitivity of human observers and the inherent ambiguity of cast shadows in pictorial art. Perception, 33, 1369-1383.
  • Werner, S. & Schindler, L.E. (2004). Misaligned local reference systems in floor plan layout impair wayfinding performance. Environment & Behavior. 36, 461-482.
  • Werner, S. and Diedrichsen, J. (2002). The time course of spatial memory distortions. Memory & Cognition, 30(5), 717-729. 
  • Werner, S. and Thies, B. (2000). Is “change blindness” attenuated by domain-specific expertise? An expert-novices comparison of change detection in football images. Visual Cognition, 7, 163-173.
  • Werner, S. and Schmidt, K. (1999). Environmental reference systems for large-scale spaces. Spatial Cognition and Computation, 1(4), 447-473.

  • Research on alternatives to traditional alphanumeric passwords systems. We are investigating the potential of graphical and narrative passwords for future authentication technologies.
  • A number of small research projects on automotive user interfaces (e.g., gesture based interactions in the car) and a diverse set of additional usability studies using eye-tracking methodology.
  • Research on situation awareness of control room operators in complex process control scenarios.
  • Continued development of the website for online educational resources for cognitive neuroscience.

Psychology & Communication

Physical Address:
206 Student Health Center

Mailing Address:
Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3043
Moscow, ID 83844-3043

Phone: 208-885-6324

Fax: 208-885-7710


Web: Psychology and Communication