Choosing people: the role of social capital in information seeking behaviour

Catherine A. Johnson

It is an almost universal finding in studies investigating human information behaviour that people choose other people as their preferred source of information. An explanation for the use of people as information sources is that they are easier to approach than more formal sources and therefore are a least effort option. However there have been few studies that have investigated who the people chosen as information sources are and what their relationship to the information seeker is. This paper reports findings that come out of a larger investigation of the information seeking behaviour of a random sample of residents of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Using the theory of social capital as a conceptual framework and the methods of social network analysis, this study investigated the relational factors associated with the choice of people as information sources. Results indicate that respondents chose people who had better resources than they had and were not well known by them. This suggests that respondents were deliberate in their choice of people information sources and therefore it is speculated that people are not necessarily the least effort option but may require considerable effort to seek out and consult.

Created:Wed, 27 Oct 2004 01:49:22 GMT

Posted: October 26, 2004, 7:49 pm


By Walden and Browne
This work presents a theory of information cascades, based on the work of Bikhchandi, Hirschleifer, and Welch
(1992), to explain fad-like behavior in the adoption of new technology. An information cascade occurs when
an individual ignores his or her own private signal about the value of a technology and relies, instead, upon
the observed actions of others. This can lead to serious problems if the observed actions in question are based
on still other observed actions rather than private signals. The present research provides an operational model
to assess information cascade theory and empirically tests the model in the context of the adoption of electronic
commerce technologies. The results suggest that information cascades play a large role in the adoption of such
Created:Sun, 24 Oct 2004 11:35:04 GMT

Posted: October 24, 2004, 5:35 am