ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

Online Search Stopping Behaviors: An Investigation of Query Abandonment and Task Stopping

Wan-Ching Wu, Diane Kelly
UNC, United States of America

Monday, Nov. 3, 1:30pm


The goal of the study is to understand the factors that influence people’s search stopping behaviors during online information search. Past research on search stopping behavior has primarily focused on the stopping behavior that takes place at the conclusion of an information-seeking task. However, in study we focus on two types of stopping behaviors that take place during information search task: query abandonment, or the point at which a person decides to stop his/her current query and enter a new one, and task stopping, or the point at which a person decides to stop the search task. A laboratory study was conducted with 48 participants who were asked to complete a set of six assigned search tasks using an online search engine with no time constraints. While participants searched, their screens were recorded using Morae. After participants finished all search tasks, we conducted a semi-structured, stimulated recall interview about their experiences and search strategies. Results show that participants made query abandonment decisions based on the characteristics of queries, of first page of results, and of task. Their decisions to stop a task were influenced by the search results they had examined, the goal they wished to achieve, the subjective perceptions they felt, and the study constraints they faced.