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The effects of cognitive load on query reformulation: mental demand, temporal demand and frustration

Kyoungsik Na (Konkuk University, Chungju-si, Republic of Korea)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 3 May 2021

Issue publication date: 11 June 2021

206

Abstract

Purpose

This study explores the effects of cognitive load on the propensity to reformulate queries during information seeking on the web.

Design/methodology/approach

This study employs an experimental design to analyze the effect of manipulations of cognitive load on the propensity for query reformulation between experimental and control groups. In total, three affective components that contribute to cognitive load were manipulated: mental demand, temporal demand and frustration.

Findings

A significant difference in the propensity of query reformulation behavior was found between searchers exposed to cognitive load manipulations and searchers who were not exposed. Those exposed to cognitive load manipulations made half as many search query reformulations as searchers not exposed. Furthermore, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) cognitive load scores of searchers who were exposed to the three cognitive load manipulations were higher than those of searchers who were not exposed indicating that the manipulation was effective. Query reformulation behavior did not differ across task types.

Originality/value

The findings suggest that a dual-task method and NASA-TLX assessment serve as good indicators of cognitive load. Because the findings show that cognitive load hinders a searcher's interaction with information search tools, this study provides empirical support for reducing cognitive load when designing information systems or user interfaces.

Keywords

Citation

Na, K. (2021), "The effects of cognitive load on query reformulation: mental demand, temporal demand and frustration", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 73 No. 3, pp. 436-453. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-07-2020-0206

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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