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Research Practice: Psychological Studies

Research practices and processes.

Psychology of Research Practices

A study correlating personality and information-seeking behavior.  Are they distinct personality types or facets of everyone's personality or strategies appropriate to different stages of research?  Source: Heinström, Jannica. Fast surfers, Broad scanners and Deep divers : personality and information-seeking behaviour. Finland: Åbo Akademi University Press, 2002. <>.

  • "The  Fast  surfers’  information  seeking  seemed  somewhat  problematic.  They  experienced problems  in both  relevance  judgments as well as  the critical evaluation of  information. Lack of  time prevented them from finding the information they needed and they often chose documents on the basis of easy access and least effort. This information attitude was foremost explained by a surface approach to  studying.
  • The  Broad  scanners  had  an  open,  competitive  and  outgoing  personality  and  sought information  actively  from  a wide  range  of  sources. Their  information  seeking was  flexible  and  they often retrieved information by chance. Broad scanning was particularly common among social science students.
  • The Deep divers were intrinsically motivated and searched for information in order to extend their  topical  knowledge. These  students were  quality  conscious  and worked  hard  in  order  to  obtain reliable and scientific information."

Compare market studies of decision making among consumers.  One study indicates that both the "optimizer" and the "satisficer" tend to spend too much time making up their minds over choices that don't matter: Tierney, John. “The Price of Dithering.” New York Times 24 Mar 2008. <>.

Compare neuroscience studies on How the brain makes decisions: "the trade-offs that have evolved in humans could not be more different from those that engineers made in designing conventional computers, however. Engineers chose accuracy.  Brains, ... minimize energy consumption at all costs.... brains adapted to operate barely above the noise threshold.... the brain manages noise by using large numbers of neurons whenever it can.. It makes  important decisions (such as "is that a lion or a tabby cat?") by having sizable goups fo neurons compete with each other -- a shouting match between the lion neurons and the tabby cat neurons in which the accidental silence (or spontaneous outburst) of a few nerve cells is overwhelmed by thousands of others. The winners silence the losers...." p. 61 Fox, Douglas. “Thinking machine: the future of computing may depend on embracing the chaos that defines the human brain.” Discover Oct 2009: 59-64, 75. <>.


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