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Title: A comparison of seeking-finding behaviours across the contexts of environmental space, paper documents, and on-screen
Author: Barker, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis compares behaviour across three contrasting contexts: environmental space, paper documents, and on-screen. The behaviours examined are defined as seeking-finding behaviours: these comprise continuous, recursive sequences of choices made by an individual purposefully seeking and progressing towards a defined objective; these processes are constructive, dynamic, responsive, and interactive. Such behaviours may be more readily known as wayfinding, information-seeking, or navigating. The lack of a single term encompassing this group of behaviours is indicative of the paucity of previous research using this frame of reference. While there is discussion of seeking-finding in individual contexts, there is little comparing this behaviour between contexts, and none examining it across all three contexts. Comparing behaviours across contexts is facilitated here by the formulation of a taxonomy that creates categories of behaviour equally applicable to all three contexts. This taxonomy differentiates behaviours according to characteristics of the information driving them. In doing this, the taxonomy facilitates comparisons hitherto unrealised, and allows connections to be drawn across multiple disciplines. Behaviours in the three contexts are compared by using the taxonomy in the analysis of data from three studies of human behaviour. This analysis finds that interactions between categories of behaviour, and with the factors of individual, context, and task are complex and multi-dimensional. The conclusion is drawn that, when viewed through the lens of information source, seeking-finding behaviours are comparable across the contexts of environmental space, paper documents, and on-screen. Such comparisons can be revealing about behaviour in ways productive for both information design practice and research across several disciplines, affording new insights and connections. Furthermore, the questions that drive the taxonomy offer an approach for information designers to interrogate their choices when designing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral