Wilson 1996

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  • 1. Kalpita Potawad M.L.I.Sc 2012-2013 Wilson 1996 modelDefinitionsInformation behaviorInformation behavior (IB) encompasses intentional information seeking as well asunintentional information encounters.IntroductionT.D. Wilson has put forth a series of models of information seeking (1981, 1996,1997, and 1999). The last of these, like Dervin’s sensemaking metaphor,emphasizes the complexities of context for information seeking.Wilson’s 1996 model explains three aspects of information seeking: (1) Whyinformation seeking is more likely to occur in response to some needs more thanothers; (2) why some information sources get more use than others; (3) whypeople’s perceptions of their own efficacy influences their success in meeting aninformation goal. His 1999 model emphasizes “information process” and invokes a feedback loopwherein information seeking is thought of as iterative at various stages, rather thansuccessiveWilsons 1996 model is a major revision of that of 1981, drawing upon researchfrom a variety of fields other than information science, including decision-making,psychology, innovation, health communication, and consumer research.The basic framework of the 1981 model persists, in that the person in contextremains the focus of information needs, the barriers are represented by interveningvariables and information-seeking behaviour is identified. However, there are alsochanges: the use of the term intervening variables serves to suggest that theirimpact may be supportive of information use as well as preventive; information- 1
  • 2. seeking behaviour is shown to consist of more types than previously, where theactive search was the focus of attention; information processing and use is shownto be a necessary part of the feedback loop, if information needs are to be satisfied;and three relevant theoretical ideas are presented: stress/coping theory, whichoffers possibilities for explaining why some needs do not invoke information-seeking behaviour; risk/reward theory, which may help to explain which sources ofinformation may be used more than others by a given individual; and sociallearning theory, which embodies the concept of self-efficacy, the idea of theconviction that one can successfully execute the behavior required to produce the{desired} outcomeThus, the model remains one of macro-behaviour, but its expansion and theinclusion of other theoretical models of behaviour makes it a richer source ofhypotheses and further research than Wilsons earlier model. Wilsons model of 1996 2
  • 3. This model has been labeled as information behaviour model because it is clearthat they are not information search models in the sense that might be understoodby the information retrieval researcher. They are concerned with, on the one hand, generalized behaviours surrounding theactual initiation of information-seeking and, on the other, with a broaderperspective of the information search than simply the use of computer-basedinformation retrieval systems.This is an important point to make, since the implications for IR systems fromresearch in the general area of information behaviour may inform the overalldesign principles of such systems, and may enable the information contentdeveloper to specify more clearly what navigational routes are needed through theinformation and exactly what kind of information or data types need to be in therecord, but the specification of rules for the design of interactive systems on thebasis information behaviour research may not be possible.Thus, from Wilsons 1996 model we can reasonably hypothesise that an IR systemshould be designed so as to reduce the risk of failure by the user and, thereby,increase his or her sense of self-efficacy, but the means whereby the risk is reducedmust be a matter for the system designer. However, better systems are likely to bedesigned if the designer understands the ideas of risk/reward and self-efficacy.Again, Elliss work suggests that an IR system ought to provide more navigationalroutes for the user, providing not only Boolean or best-match search strategies, butalso the capacity to chain through citations in texts both backwards and forwards intime, and with intelligent agents to monitor additions to the database according to,say, the users last search or an established profile.Similarly, given that virtually all studies of information-seeking behaviour showthe importance of personal networks, IR systems could well embody routines thatwould enable users to indicate their willingness to be put in contact with othersinterested in the same research areas. By doing so, IR systems could becomegenuine tools for collaborative work, not only within but across disciplines: thepotential for this has been made real by the development of the Internet and bymodern software tools that allow the desk-top to act as the interface to the Internetand World Wide Web. 3
  • 4. Information seeking behaviour is defined from Wilsons 2nd model as the phaseafter the seeker realizes their needs. Wilson suggests that information seekingbehaviour arises due to seekers needs to "makes demands upon formal andinformal sources or services" (Wilson, 1999).He (Wilson, 2000) gives examples of these demands as "manual informationsystems" (such as newspaper or a library), or with computer - based systems (suchas the World Wide Web).He also (Wilson, 2007) identifies three needs with in Information SeekingBehaviour, Physiological, Affective and Cognitive. These needs determine how theseeker seeks the information. Besides Wilsons 2nd model also points out whatfactors "may prevent (and, by implication, aid) the actual search for information(Wilson, 1999).All three needs in Information Seeking Behaviour are indentified by Wilson(Wilson, 2006) as interrelated "physiological needs may trigger affective and/orcognitive needs; affective needs may give rise to cognitive needs; and problemsrelating to the satisfaction of cognitive needs (such as a failure to satisfy needs, orfear of disclosing needs) may result in affective needs (for example, forreassurance)".These needs are what Wilson (Wilson, 1996) identifies with in "Risk / RewardTheory", each action the seeker makes there is a reward e.g. getting theinformation but at the same time "risking not only financial resources but alsopsychological and physical resources" (Wilson, 1996).From Aaker et al (Aaker, 1992) research, Wilson (Wilson, 1996) breaks down the"Information Seeking Behaviour" into four phases: Passive Attention: just acquiring information without seeking for it e.g. listening to the radio and watching TV. Passive Search: almost accidental when the seeker acquires relevant information. Active Search: seeker actively seeks for information. On Going Search: a continuation of what the seeker has acquired during Active Search, allowing better information processing, "Update or expand ones framework". 4
  • 5. This review shows that Wilsons (1981) model needs to be expanded to provide amore effective general framework for the consideration of information-seekingbehaviour. In particular, we see a need to include a stage between what we shallcall the person-in-context and the decision to seek information.This is the point which Dervin (1983) labels the gap between situation and use. Wepropose to fill the gap by inserting the concept of activating mechanism, using thestress/coping model as an example of a theoretical approach to such a mechanism,allowing, however, for sources of motivation other than stress to exist.A further need is to elaborate the concept of intervening variables or barriers, tospecify the fact that characteristics of the information source may constitute abarrier, either to information-seeking behaviour or to information processing, andthat personal variables may be either psychological or demographic.Research also suggests the need for a further intermediate stage (or activatingmechanism) between the determination of need and the initiation of action tosatisfy the need. Here we propose the risk/reward theory, social learning theoryand the concept of self-efficacy, as intervening concepts.Given the relationship of self-efficacy to coping, it is debatable whether theconcept should appear here or as part of the stress/coping element but, given itsrelationship to social learning theory, the location shown seems at least equallyappropriate.Wilsons framework (and Elliss elaboration of the stages of information-seekingbehaviour) also deal only with the active search for information and the frameworkneeds to be expanded to include other modes of information seeking, which mayhave different characteristics. This report draws attention to other analyses of thesearch process and room exists for further research on the processes that may bepeculiar to the other search modes.Finally, the model needs extension to include information processing andinformation use, which are the stages beyond information-seeking and whichprovide the link back to the need-arousing situation of the person-in-context.Thus, an expanded version of Wilsons (1981) model, which takes the findings ofthis review into account. Expanded in this way, the model can be taken to apply to 5
  • 6. information behaviour more generally, rather than solely to information-seekingbehaviour.ConclusionAlthough a great deal of research has been reviewed to bring the model to itspresent state, time has not allowed for the effective incorporation of the findings ofall the research reviewed. For example, some work puts a great deal of emphasison other aspects of the person, or the situation, or, in the case of mass media inparticular, on characteristics of the information sources not discussed above.Also, although the situation in which the initial need for information arises hasoccasioned the investigation of a number of variables in various studies, thesituation within which the information is found and processed appears to have beengiven less analysis and, perhaps particularly in respect of the role of computers ininformation-seeking, may be of some significance.However, we believe that, in spite of the omissions, the ideas presented throughoutthis review offer the information science researcher a great deal to think about.With certain exceptions, much of the work reported here has been ignored byinformation scientists and we believe that there are analytical concepts, models andtheories that need to be absorbed into information science as a matter of urgency.ReferencesWilson, T.D, (1999). Models in information behaviour research. Retrieved fromhttp://informationr.net/tdw/publ/papers/1999JDoc.htmlWilson, T.D, 10SEP-IB Group Bravo. Retrieved fromhttp://mediawiki.cite.hku.hk/index.php/10SEP-IB_Group_Bravo 6