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Risk and Ambiguity in Information Seeking: Eye Gaze Patterns Reveal Contextual Behaviour in Dealing with Uncertainty
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1539-8256
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT.
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2016 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 7Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Information foraging connects optimal foraging theory in ecology with how humans search for information. The theory suggests that, following an information scent, the information seeker must optimize the tradeoff between exploration by repeated steps in the search space vs. exploitation, using the resources encountered. We conjecture that this tradeoff characterizes how a user deals with uncertainty and its two aspects, risk and ambiguity in economic theory. Risk is related to the perceived quality of the actually visited patch of information, and can be reduced by exploiting and understanding the patch to a better extent. Ambiguity, on the other hand, is the opportunity cost of having higher quality patches elsewhere in the search space. The aforementioned tradeoff depends on many attributes, including traits of the user: at the two extreme ends of the spectrum, analytic and wholistic searchers employ entirely different strategies. The former type focuses on exploitation first, interspersed with bouts of exploration, whereas the latter type prefers to explore the search space first and consume later. Based on an eye-tracking study of experts’ interactions with novel search interfaces in the biomedical domain, we demonstrate that perceived risk shifts the balance between exploration and exploitation in either type of users, tilting it against vs. in favour of ambiguity minimization. Since the pattern of behaviour in information foraging is quintessentially sequential, risk and ambiguity minimization cannot happen simultaneously, leading to a fundamental limit on how good such a tradeoff can be. This in turn connects information seeking with the emergent field of quantum decision theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 7
Keyword [en]
information foraging, quantum decision theory, risk and ambiguity minimizationl, eye gaze, information seeking, cognitive style
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
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URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-11643DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01790ISI: 000387917200001PubMedID: 27909418Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85006337226OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-11643DiVA, id: diva2:1062338
Available from: 2017-01-05 Created: 2017-01-05 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Wittek, PeterDarányi, Sándor
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