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The Effect of Need for Cognition on Search Performance

Jingjing Liu and Xiangmin Zhang

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


We examine in this paper how need for cognition (NFC), one of the personal characteristics, affects search performance in two aspects: effectiveness measured by precision and efficiency measured by search time. Forty participants were invited individually to an on-campus usability laboratory for the study. Each was asked to perform two search tasks, make usefulness judgments on search results they obtained, and rate the task difficulty level upon finishing each task. Their NFC levels were collected by a standard psychologist-developed NFC Scale. Factor analysis, T-test and General Linear Model in SPSS were used to analyze the collected data. NFC was found to have effects on search effectiveness in general, but not on time (efficiency). Not significant though, there were tendencies that the interaction of task difficulty and NFC affected search effectiveness and efficiency. Results proved that NFC is a significant facet that could influence search performance. More studies are needed to further explore the interaction effect of NFC and the level of task difficulty/complexity. Further research will also examine the effect of elaborative processing of information in contributing to the better performance of people with high NFC level.

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