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Affective and Cognitive Information Behavior: Interaction Effects in Internet Use

Diane Nahl

Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together @ ASIST '05 (ASIS&T 2005)
Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, October 28 - November 2, 2005


The presence of and influence of affective variables in information behavior was studied. Affective load (AL), a compound variable consisting of uncertainty and technophobia measures, was found to be present in a variety of simple and complex information tasks that were integrated into upper-division, disciplinary course-work. Affective load was higher in those who reported low values of affective coping skills and who had either high or low cognitive assessment scores. Affective coping skills (ACS) consist of self-efficacy (SE) and optimism (Op) measures. High self-efficacy and optimism have been found to significantly and beneficially influence success in a variety of information tasks by counteracting the effects of negative emotions such as irritation and frustration. In this study, high coping skills provided a significant affective advantage as indicated by higher optimism, stronger self-efficacy, lower uncertainty, higher support and acceptance of the system and less affective load. The high cognitive skills group reported significantly higher optimism, higher affective coping skills and higher felt exercise of control, thereby demonstrating an interaction between cognitive and affective skills. There was a distinct advantage for those who had both high affective coping skills and high cognitive skills. They experienced relatively low affective load and high acceptance of the system.

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