Cognitive biases and their effects on information behaviour of graduate students in their research projects

Sara Behimeher, Hamid R. Jamali Mahmuei

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Abstract

Cognitive biases can influence human information behaviour and decisions made in information behaviour and use. This study aims to identify the biases involved in some aspects of information behaviour and the role they play in information behaviour and use. Twenty-five semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted in an exploratory qualitative study with graduate (MA and PhD) students who were at the stage of their dissertation/thesis research. Eisenberg & Berkowitz Big6TM Skills for Information Literacy was adopted as a framework for interviews and the analysis was done using grounded theory coding method. The findings revealed the presence of twenty-eight biases in different stages of information behaviour, including availability bias (affects the preference for information seeking strategies), attentional bias (leads to biased attention to some information), anchoring effect (persuades users to anchor in special parts of information), confirmation bias (increases the tendency to use information that supports one's beliefs), and choice-supportive bias (results in confidence in information seeking processes). All stages of information seeking were influenced by some biases. Biases might result in a lack of clarity in defining the information needs, failure in looking for the right information, misinterpretation of information, and might also influence the way information is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Information Science Theory and Practice
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2020

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