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The effects of internet filtering on users’ information-seeking behaviour and emotions

Hamid R. Jamali (School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia)
Pria Shahbaztabar (Department of Library and Information Studies, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between internet filtering, emotions and information-seeking behaviour.


In total, 15 postgraduate students at an Iranian university participated in the study which involved a questionnaire, search tasks with think aloud narratives, and interviews.


Internet content filtering results in some changes in the information-seeking behaviour of users. Users who face website blocking use a variety of methods to bypass filtering, mostly by using anti-filter software. Filtering encourages users to use channels such as social networking services to share resources and it increases the use of library material by some of the users. Users who face filtering during their search are more likely to visit more pages of results and click on more hits in the results, unlike users who do not experience filtering who rarely go past the first page. Blocking users’ access to content stimulates their curiosity and they become more determined to access the content. In terms of the affective aspect, filtering causes several negative emotions (e.g. anger, disgust, sadness and anxiety) and the main reason for these emotions is not the inability to access information but the feeling of being controlled and not having freedom.

Research limitations/implications

The study was limited to a small number of postgraduate students in social sciences and not generalisable to all user groups. The implication is that in countries where filtering is used, libraries can play an important role in serving users and reducing users negative emotions, especially if libraries can take advantage of technologies such as social media for their services.


This is first study to address the effects of internet filtering on information-seeking behaviour and emotions. The study shows that internet filtering causes negative emotions and results in some changes in information-seeking behaviour.



Jamali, H.R. and Shahbaztabar, P. (2017), "The effects of internet filtering on users’ information-seeking behaviour and emotions", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 69 No. 4, pp. 408-425.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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