Group Information-Seeking Behavior in Emergency Response
Emergencies—whether natural or technological, random or human-induced—may bring profound changes to organizations, the built environment, and society at large. These changes create the need for reliable information about the emergency and its impacts, and thus require responding organizations to seek and process information from an evolving range of sources. By understanding how skilled versus novice response personnel search for information in emergencies, we may begin to understand how to support and train for skillful information seeking in situations characterized by risk, time constraint, and complexity. This study develops a hypothesized model of information-seeking behavior in emergency response and evaluates it using data from expert and novice groups addressing simulated emergency situations. The results suggest that experts maintain breadth in the extent of their information seeking, despite increasing time pressure. Novices, on the other hand, decrease the extent of their search under increasing time pressure. Both expert and novice groups show a decreasing effort in information seeking; moreover, effort devoted to search for common and unique information decreases over time.
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