Human Information Behavior

By Wilson, T. D. | Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, Annual 2000 | Go to article overview

Human Information Behavior


Wilson, T. D., Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline


Introduction

Until recently the computer science and information systems communities have equated 'information requirements' of users with the way users behave in relation to the systems available. In other words, investigations into information requirements were concerned almost entirely with how a user navigated a given system and what he or she could do with the data (rather than information) made available by information systems.

This is now beginning to change as ethnographic methods are introduced into the requirements definition stage of systems design, and Beyer and Holtzblatt (1998) have shown the benefits. However, even when such methods are employed, the designers appear to be asking, "How is this person using the system?" rather than seeking to determine what the individual's (or the organization's) information needs may be and how information seeking behavior relates to other, task-oriented behavior. In fact, a concern with what information is needed has been the province not of information systems as a discipline, but of information science and, before that, librarianship.

To these fields we can add consumer behavior research, marketing, psychology, health communication research, and a number of other disciplines that take the user as the focus of interest, rather than the system. The aim of this paper is to review some of this research and to point to findings that enable the system designer to put the design process in the wider context of the user in the organization.

Some Definitions

Some definitions are needed before we go further. In this paper, four terms are used: information behavior, information seeking behavior, information searching behavior and information use behavior. They are defined as follows:

   Information Behavior is the totality of human behavior
   in relation to sources and channels of information,
   including both active and passive information
   seeking, and information use. Thus, it includes face-to-face
   communication with others, as well as the
   passive reception of information as in, for example,
   watching TV advertisements, without any intention to
   act on the information given.

   Information Seeking Behavior is the purposive seeking
   for information as a consequence of a need to
   satisfy some goal. In the course of seeking, the individual
   may interact with manual information systems
   (such as a newspaper or a library), or with computer-based
   systems (such as the World Wide Web).

   Information Searching Behavior is the 'micro-level'
   of behavior employed by the searcher in interacting
   with information systems of all kinds. It consists of all
   the interactions with the system, whether at the level
   of human computer interaction (for example, use of
   the mouse and clicks on links) or at the intellectual
   level (for example, adopting a Boolean search strategy
   or determining the criteria for deciding which of
   two books selected from adjacent places on a library
   shelf is most useful), which will also involve mental
   acts, such as judging the relevance of data or information
   retrieved.

   Information Use Behavior consists of the physical
   and mental acts involved in incorporating the information
   found into the person's existing knowledge
   base. It may involve, therefore, physical acts such as
   marking sections in a text to note their importance or
   significance, as well as mental acts that involve, for
   example, comparison of new information with existing
   knowledge.

In all of the above definitions data is subsumed under information, that is, data may or may not be information depending upon the state of understanding of the information user. A datum such as "hbar=h/2pi = 6.58*10 [conjunction] -25 GeV s = 1.05*10 [conjunction]-34 J s" does not inform me because I have no framework of understanding in which to incorporate the datum. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human Information Behavior
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.