Interaction with peers online: LGBTQIA+ individuals' information seeking and meaning-making during the life transitions of identity construction

Romy Menghao Jia, Jia Tina Du, Yuxiang Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

People search for information and experiences and seek meaning as a common reaction to new life challenges. There is little knowledge about the interactions through which experiential information is acquired, and how such interactions are meaningful to an information seeker. Through a qualitative content analysis of 992 posts in an online forum, this study investigated lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual (LGBTQIA+) individuals' online information interactions and meaning-making with peers during their life transitions of identity construction. Our analysis reveals LGBTQIA+ people's life challenges across three transition stages (being aware of, exploring, and living with a new identity). Three main types of online peer interactions were identified within: cognitive, affective, and situational peer interactions. We found that online peer interactions are not only a type of information source that LGBTQIA+ individuals use to acquire understanding about themselves but a unique space for transformation learning and meaning-making where they share self-examination and reflection, conduct assessments and assumptions, and obtain strength and skills to initiate and adapt life transitions. The findings have theoretical contributions to the development of information behavior models of transitions and practical implications on providing information services that support LGBTQIA+ individuals' meaning-making during the life transition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-42
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Volume75
Issue number1
Early online dateOct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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