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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS064055)

How people initiate information seeking behavior: Case studies of medical information seeking
No.64, p.55-79
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Purpose: This paper attempts to reveal the mechanism through which ordinary people initiate information seeking behavior. Although a large number of studies have focused on information seeking behavior, few studies have discussed how this process starts. The present study identified the mechanism by which this process starts based on an in-depth analysis of how ordinary people initiate information seeking behavior.

Methods: Seven persons who sought medical information for their family or for themselves participated in the study; each person was interviewed between July and September 2005. The participants outlined their information seeking behavior, explaining why and how they started to seek information. This paper examined the results for three participants who agreed to the publication of the contents of their interviews.

Results: The initiation of information seeking behavior was composed of the following three steps: facing the occasion, setting the task, and selecting the information sources. These three steps were linked and organized by the activation of searchers’ontexts. First, the activation of searchers’ontexts, which is triggered by facing c c the occasion, prompts the setting of the task. Second, the searchers’ontexts are activated again, prompting the selection of information sources. Finally, the selection of actual information sources enables the initiation of information seeking behavior. When people initiate information seeking behavior, they must complete all three of these steps. In particular, the activation of searchers’ontexts is mandatory for progressing to the three steps.

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