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Why do some people search for their files much more than others? A preliminary study

Ofer Bergman (Department of Information Science, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel)
Tamar Israeli (Information Science, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel)
Yael Benn (Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 12 April 2021

Issue publication date: 11 June 2021




Previous research has repeatedly shown that people only search for files in a small minority of cases when they do not remember the file's location. The current study aimed to examine whether there is a group of hyper-searchers who search significantly more than others. Based on previous neurocognitive studies, this study aims to hypothesize that if such a group exists, they will have superior verbal memory and reduced visuospatial memory.


In total, 65 participants completed a questionnaire estimating their search percentages, as well as reporting demographic data. Verbal memory was measured using the Wechsler logical memory test, and visuospatial memory was assessed using an online card memory game.


Hyper-searchers were defined as participants with search percentage of over one standard deviation (SD) above the mean. The average search percentage of the seven participants who met this criterion was 51% (SD = 14%), over five times more than the other participants (M = 10%, SD = 9%). Similar results were obtained by re-analyzing data from four previous papers (N = 1,252). The results further confirmed the hypothesis that hyper-searchers have significantly better verbal memory than other participants, possibly making searching easier and more successful for them. Lastly, the search percentage was positively predicted by verbal memory scores and negatively predicted by visuospatial memory scores. Explanations and future research are discussed.


This preliminary study is the first to introduce the concept of hyper-searchers, demonstrate its existence and study its causes.



The authors thank our participants for their time and effort. This research was funded by the Israeli Science Foundation, Grant 1074/16


Bergman, O., Israeli, T. and Benn, Y. (2021), "Why do some people search for their files much more than others? A preliminary study", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 73 No. 3, pp. 406-418.



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