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Predicting Library, Internet and Other Source Use: A Comparison of the Predictive Power of Two User-Defined Categorizations of Information Seeking

Brenda Dervin and CarrieLynn D Reinhard

(Submission #114)


Summary

PURPOSE: To bring together two thrusts of our research on information behavior: a) re-testing the empirical advantage of treating emotions multi-dimensionally rather than uni-dimensionally; b) examining emotional dimensions as attributes ascribed by actors to situations rather than trait attributes ascribed to actors; and, c) comparing alternative predictors of source using. Predictor sets tested included: a) user descriptions of the material nature of their situations -- i.e. everyday life-facing, handling academia, doing scholarship; and, b) user ratings of their situations on six "emotions" scales.

METHODS: The sample included 409 college/university faculty and students. Informants described 5 recent academic and personal situations. Units of analysis were 2030 informants-in-situations. Analyses of variance and multiple regressions were used as statistical tools.

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS FROM CONCLUSIONS: Because the research goal focused on unearthing heuristic potentials rather than economy of explanation, many conclusions emerged. A few highlights

* On the surface different situations related to source use in expected ways

-- e.g. libraries, museums were more used in doing scholarship situations.

* In general, more intense emotions related to more source use, but this was straightforward only for own observations; peer, kin; and professors, mentors.

* Libraries, museums, for example, showed both more and less use depending on "emotions." So did internet browsers, databases but in less differentiated ways.

* Internet browsers, databases were different from libraries, museums in that the former showed high use in both everyday life-facing and doing scholarship while the latter did so only for doing scholarship. The use levels for internet browsers, databases were 61% (everyday life-facing); 43% (handling academia); 79% (doing scholarship; for libraries, museums, 12%, 26%, 66% respectively,

* Different "emotions" ratings did not predict source use in unified ways.

* Situated emotional dimensions seemed to serve as triggers for nuanced differences in source using in different situational conditions.

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