The Effects of Search Task Determinability on Search Behavior
Among the many task characteristics that influence search behaviors and outcomes, task complexity has received considerable attention. One view of task complexity is through the lens of a priori determinability—a measure of how much the searcher knows about the task outcomes, information requirements, and processes involved. In this paper, we explore a novel manipulation of a priori determinability in the context of comparative search tasks, which require comparing items (or alternatives) along different dimensions. Our manipulation involved explicitly including the items to be compared and/or the dimension by which to compare items in the search task description. We report on two user studies that investigate the effects of our manipulation on searchers’ pre-task perceptions, search behaviors and post-task outcomes. Our results found that specifying the items had an effect on searchers’ pre-task perceptions, but not their search behaviors and outcomes, and that specifying the dimension had no effect on perceptions, but made the task more difficult by possibly introducing uncertainty into the search process.
KeywordsSearch Task Search Effort Search Behavior Comparative Task Task Characteristic
This work was supported in part by NSF grants IIS-1552587 and IIS-1451668. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.
- 1.Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R.: A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Longman, New York (2001)Google Scholar
- 6.Campbell, D.J.: Task complexity: a review and analysis. Acad. Manag. Rev. 13(1), 40–52 (1988)Google Scholar
- 7.Capra, R., Arguello, J., Crescenzi, A., Vardell, E.: Differences in the use of search assistance for tasks of varying complexity. In: SIGIR, pp. 23–32. ACM (2015)Google Scholar
- 8.Jansen, B.J., Booth, D., Smith, B.: Using the taxonomy of cognitive learning to model online searching. IPM 45(6), 643–663 (2009)Google Scholar
- 9.Kelly, D., Arguello, J., Edwards, A., Wu, W.-C.: Development and evaluation of search tasks for IIR experiments using a cognitive complexity framework. In: ICTIR, pp. 101–110. ACM (2015)Google Scholar
- 10.Keppel, G., Wickens, T.D.: Design and Analysis: A Researcher’s Handbook, 3rd edn. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River (1991)Google Scholar
- 12.Toms, E.G.: Task-based information searching and retrieval. In: Ruthven, I., Kelly, D. (eds.) Interactive Information Seeking, Behaviour and Retrieval, pp. 43–59. Facet Publishing, London (2011). Chapter 3Google Scholar