Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Previous research has suggested that information seeking behavior is lawful and that the levels of information seeking are dependent upon alterations of the nature and conditions under which the information is sought. However, in the previous research only two variables were manipulated. One was the similarity of the information to the subject seeking the information. This variable proved significant and could. Be used to predict the relative levels of information seeking. The other variable was the race, black or white, of the individual for whom one was seeking information. This variable proved to be not significant.
The current study is designed to validate the findings of the first study and to expand the variables studied in order to more clearly specify the nature of information seeking behaviors and its laws. In order to do this, the following research was carried out.
Forty, randomly selected, Wheaton undergraduates were given attitude questionnaires to fill out. The first contained items which have been demonstrated to be of low importance and the second contained items demonstrated to be of high importance. From the responses of the subjects individual protocols were constructed to appear as similar or dissimilar to the subject. Thus, four protocols were available as follows: High Important Similar Information, Low Important Similar Information, High Important Dissimilar Information and Low Important Dissimilar Information. The items were presented one at a time to the subjects and they were allowed to seek as much or as little as they required in order to make a decision of acceptance or rejection. Twenty of the subjects were seeking in order to accept or reject a potential roommate. This was defined as a close social situation. Twenty of the subjects were seeking in order to accept or reject a potential member of the general community. This was defined as a distant social situation. Thus, the conditions under wich information seeking occured, varied on the dimensions of information similarity, information importance and social distance. The levels of information seeking were analyzed using a three way analysis of variance. All variables proved to have a statistically significant effect on information seeking behavior. The effects were interactive and are described in the body of the study. Under conditions of close social distance information seeking increased for items of information which were similar and of high importance and decreased for items which were dissimilar and of low importance. Under conditions of far social distance information seeking increased for items of information which were dissimilar and of low importance and decreased for items which were similar and of high importance.
Sternlight, Dennis L., "Information Seeking Behavior" (1975). Open Access Dissertations. Paper 1115.