A within-subjects experiment explored how the number of online, hyperlinked stories available for individuals to choose from affects cognitive processing of a selected story. Participants chose and read unpleasant online news stories from a Web page containing either 5 or 15 headline/photo hyperlinks. Heart rate data indicated more cognitive resources were allocated to reading stories selected from the larger array of hyperlinks. This increased allocation of cognitive resources also led to more accurate story recognition. Results of this study provide insight into information processing of interactive, online news as well as limited suggestions for the design of news Web sites.
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