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The interplay of affective and cognitive factors in information seeking and use: Comparing Kuhlthau’s and Nahl’s models

Reijo Savolainen (School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 12 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the conceptual picture of the relationships between the affective and cognitive factors in information seeking and use.

Design/methodology/approach

Conceptual analysis focusing on the ways in which the affective and cognitive factors and their interplay are approached in the Information Search Process model developed by Carol Kuhlthau, and the Social-Biological Information Technology model elaborated by Diane Nahl.

Findings

Kuhlthau’s model approaches the cognitive factors (thoughts) and affective factors (feelings) and affective-cognitive factors (mood) as integral constituents of the six-stage information search process. Thoughts determine the valence of feelings (positive or negative), while mood opens or closes the range of possibilities in a search. Nahl’s taxonomic model defines the affective and cognitive factors as components of a biologically determined process serving the ends of adaptation to information ecology. The interplay of the above factors is conceptualized by focusing on their mutual roles in the cognitive and affective appraisal of information.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on the comparison of two models only.

Originality/value

So far, information scientists have largely ignored the study of the interplay between affective and cognitive factors in information seeking and use. The findings indicate that the examination of these factors together rather than separately holds a good potential to elaborate the holistic picture of information seeking and use.

Keywords

Citation

Savolainen, R. (2015), "The interplay of affective and cognitive factors in information seeking and use: Comparing Kuhlthau’s and Nahl’s models", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 1, pp. 175-197. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-10-2013-0134

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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