The Effect of Searching Versus Surfing on Cognitive and Emotional Responses to Online News

Kevin Wise, Hyo Jung Kim, Jeesum Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A mixed-design experiment was conducted to explore differences between searching and surfing on cognitive and emotional responses to online news. Ninety-two participants read three unpleasant news stories from a website. Half of the participants acquired their stories by searching, meaning they had a previous information need in mind. The other half of the participants acquired their stories by surfing, with no previous information need in mind. Heart rate, skin conductance, and corrugator activation were collected as measures of resource allocation, motivational activation, and unpleasantness, respectively, while participants read each story. Self-report valence and recognition accuracy were also measured. Stories acquired by searching elicited greater heart rate acceleration, skin conductance level, and corrugator activation during reading. These stories were rated as more unpleasant, and their details were recognized more accurately than similar stories that were acquired by surfing. Implications of these results for understanding how people process online media are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Media Psychology
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cognition
  • emotion
  • online news
  • psychophysiology
  • web browsing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

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