i3 conference in Aberdeen. Mark Hepworth presented research results of his doctoral student Fatmah Almehmadi on Categories of information avoidance: a qualitative study of information avoidance behaviour of female academics in Saudi Arabia. This contributes to information behaviour (IB) research, particularly non-purposive IB, and IB outside the Western context.
Almehmadi on had identified categories for information acquisition, information avoidance and information sharing: avoidance was the focus of this paper. There were motivations for avoidance (implicit and explicit) , strategies for avoiding (e.g. proactive, reactive) and types of avoidance (e.g. upon encountering, ongoing).
Going into more detail: in terms of types of information avoidance there was pre-disposed (e.g. choosing not to look at a Youtube channel; avoiding news about war conflict) and upon encounter (in physical or online settings). Motivations were categorised as implicit or explicit. Both explicit and implicit reasons were intellectually, emotionally or socially driven. As an example of intellectually driven motivation, there was the category of avoiding mental discomfort, e.g. avoiding reading something that conflicts with your beliefs.
The researcher felt that social motivation was particularly powerful for these Saudi women e.g. avoiding information because you are following advice , or want to avoid upsetting people.
Strategies for information avoidance were verbal (e.g. asking someone to change the subject) and non-verbal e.g. avoiding health care providers so as not to hear unpleasant news, or turning off the TV.
Overall there was a rich network of categories presented, and it will be interesting to see a paper about it.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Dunnottis Castle, June 2015