i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. The next short paper is from Sara Chizari (PhD student at the University of South Carolina and a Sheffield University alumna ;-) on How do cultural differences and cognitive styles affect online information searching behaviour? A case study of American, Chinese and Iranian graduate students. Her theoretical framework is Nisbett's cultural cognition theory (2001) (proposing that Westerners tend to have more analytic cognitive styles than East Asians). She invited 10 participants from each of the three ethnic groups to undertake searches in a lab where the computers had logging and eye tracking software. The participants' disciplines were either Engineering or Social sciences. There was a pre-test questionnaire, and then they each undertook four tasks, using Google: they had remembering, understanding, analysing and evaluating tasks.
Chizari is still analysing the data, and has not finished her reseach, but has emerging results. In terms of activities (e.g. mouse clicks, time, right click searching, query reformulation) there was the lowest level of activity amongst the Americans (that's people who have grown up in the USA), then the Iranians and the most active were the Chinese participants. An ANOVA analysis showed that there WAS a statistically significant difference between nationalities. The next phase of the research will include asking the Iranians and Chinese to do searches in their mother languages.
Photo by Sheila Webber: chair in one of the few places that had a roof, at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015