Researchers from Pusan ​​National University are developing


image: What drives people to seek more information about an issue? A study by researchers from Pusan ​​National University attempts to answer this using a new theoretical framework.
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Credit: Pusan ​​National University

The rapid growth of digital media and information technology has expanded our ability to acquire the information we need. However, these abilities do not necessarily translate into actual information-seeking behaviors. While some people may be looking for a lot of information about specific issues, others may be oblivious to it. Therefore, what drives people to seek information about an issue and share it with others is a fundamental question.

To understand the mechanisms of information-seeking behaviors, Professor Hyo Jung Kim and Professor Sungwook Hwang from Pusan ​​National University, Korea, combined two existing theoretical frameworks, namely situational problem-solving theory (STOPS) and Risk Information Research and Processing (RISP), to develop the brand new Information Behaviors on Social Issues (IBSI) model. “By providing theoretical insights into the processes underlying people’s information behaviors, the results will offer practical implications for promoting the information-seeking behavior of the public and their involvement in major political and policy issues.“, comments Professor Kim, one of the authors of this study. The results were published in the International communication journal (posted June 30, 2022).

The researchers tested their new framework in the context of information behaviors regarding South-North Korean relations. To do this, they conducted a survey of 1,014 South Korean adults between the ages of 19 and 64. Their findings suggest that an individual’s information-seeking behaviors are primarily a function of cognitive, affective, and social factors.

With respect to cognitive factors, it has been found that people are more likely to seek information about a problem when they perceive the problem (problem recognition) and link them to the problem (involvement recognition). Additionally, people are more likely to seek out information when they believe there are only a few obstacles preventing them from doing something about the problem. (constraint recognition).

Regarding the affective factors involved in information behaviors, it was found that the more people have a negative opinion of inter-Korean relations, the more they think they have enough information on the issue (sufficiency of information).

Finally, it has been observed that people are more likely to assume that they lack sufficient information if they perceive that other people close to them are waiting for their deep understanding about it. (informational subjective standards). Professor Hwang, the corresponding author of this study, further explains: “The important role of subjective norms found in this study may be due to the collectivist tendency of Korean culture, as well as the nature of the problem, to put all residents of the Korean peninsula in the same boat.

Another interesting observation was that insufficient information indirectly influenced information-seeking intention through situational motivation. Professor Kim, further explains the discovery, saying that “This result suggests that the perception of insufficient information does not necessarily lead directly to seeking information on a given social problem. Rather, this perception of insufficient information would first motivate individuals to make problem-solving efforts on the problem (i.e., situational motivation), leading them to seek additional information. “

In summary, the study demonstrates the usefulness of the IBSI framework in elucidating individual information-seeking behavior in North-South Korean relations. The study’s findings can help public affairs and government public relations practitioners foster informational behaviors around important policy issues.




Authors: Hyo Jung Kim and Sungwook Hwang

Affiliations: Pusan ​​National University, South Korea

About Pusan ​​National University
Pusan ​​National University, located in Busan, South Korea, was founded in 1946 and today is the no. 1 national university in South Korea in research and educational competence. The multi-campus university also has other smaller campuses in Yangsan, Miryang and Ami. The university prides itself on the principles of truth, freedom, and service and has approximately 30,000 students, 1,200 professors, and 750 faculty members. The university is made up of 14 colleges (schools) and an independent division, with 103 departments in total.

About the authors

Dr. Hyo Jung Kim is an associate professor in the Department of Media and Communication, Pusan ​​National University. His research interests include communicating science, health, risk, technology, and other topics related to communicating current information to, among, and from the public. She previously worked at Kepco International Nuclear Graduate School and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3014-2638

Dr. Sungwook Hwang is a professor in the Department of Media and Communication at Pusan ​​National University. His research interests include organizational conflict management, persuasive communication, the role of social media in public relations and political communication. He worked at Cheil Worldwide and Myongji University in Seoul, Korea before taking up his current position.
ORCID ID:0000-0002-7251-8701

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