The purpose of this paper is to highlight findings regarding human perception in allied disciplines and to argue that information behaviour research needs to find ways to address human characteristics that imply that: first, subjects are likely to fail to recognize information that is present in an environment and potentially relevant to a task at hand; and second, subjects would not be able to report on the fact that they failed to recognize the information. The authors also discuss as to how information behaviour research can address the aforementioned challenges resulting from human movement and perception.
The author draws on the literature primarily in cognitive science and psychology to highlight the findings that are most relevant to the scientific study of information behaviour, to develop a model of the information environment in which information behaviour is situated, and to critically examine how data is collected in information behaviour research. Ways to provide more comprehensive information about information behaviour are also discussed.
The literature in cognitive science and psychology suggests that failing to notice information relevant to a task at hand may not be the exception but to be expected, and needs to be taken into account by information behaviour researchers. Popular data collection methods including questionnaires and interviews do not pick that up because subjects would not be aware of the fact which means in turn that they cannot articulate the fact either. This suggests that: first, current models of information behaviour focus too much on one side of the coin; and second, information behaviour researchers may need to complement their data collection methods with data collection methods such as gaze tracking.
This is a conceptual paper based on the careful analysis of relevant research primarily in cognitive science and psychology. Relating theory to practice provides a strong indication of the general validity of the findings but there may be other aspects that have not been covered as yet.
The paper is unique in that it critically reviews information behaviour research from a human perception and movement point of view. There have been papers criticizing information behaviour research from a methodological point of view. This paper adds to that body of work and proposes a way forward.
The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful and thought-provoking comments and colleagues, students and friends for their feedback and their patience when commenting on early versions of the manuscript. Early aspects of the embodied information behaviour perspective were developed some 15 years ago while the author was with the AI Lab at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Participating for several years in the Global ShanghAI Lectures on Natural and Artificial Intelligence (shanghailectures.org) provided a constant reminder that there was still an article waiting to be written.
Peter Lueg, C. (2014), "Characteristics of human perception and their relevance when studying information behavior", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 70 No. 4, pp. 562-574. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-05-2012-0064Download as .RIS
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