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Title:Decision Dynamics and Human-Computer Interaction in Consumer Online Health Information Seeking: A Behavioral Information Research (BIR) Exploration
Author(s):Chen, Ysangyao
Subject(s):health information seeking
cognitive bias
behavioral information research
online experiment
Abstract:Humans are characterized by their active seeking, gathering, sharing, and consumption of information (Pirolli & Card, 1999). In this era of ubiquitous internet connectivity, seeking health information online has become part of contemporary life. According to a Pew Research Center survey project, about 80% of adult internet users in the United States have sought heath information online (Fox, 2011), and 35% of U.S. adults have tried to diagnose medical conditions online (Fox & Duggan, 2013). Online health information seeking (OHIS) can be seen in three contexts: health-threat coping, medical decision making, and health behavior change (Lambert & Loiselle, 2007). This study focuses on the behavioral change and preventive health behavior of information consumers other than the OHIS of health professionals or patients. Borrowing theoretical and methodological insights from cognitive psychology, behavioral economists have studied how cognitive biases affect human decision-making and their implications in fields such as economics and health. The heuristics and biases research program of Kahneman and Tversky has suggested that human judgement of probability can be subjective as opposed to the traditional expected utility hypothesis. According to the research program, cognitive biases are defined as deviation from optimal decision-making and may result from applying cognitive shortcuts when making decisions. The research program was successful and influential in the understanding of human decision behavior. Extant literature suggests that cognitive biases may influence decision-making in OHIS. This dissertation research examines biases in consumer OHIS to understand the dynamics of decision-making and how health decision-making may be improved through debiasing measures. Specifically, this dissertation research includes three studies: (a) a systematic review of cognitive biases and debiasing in online health information seeking research literature to gain an analytic overview of the area of research; (b) an experimental study on the detection of selected behavioral cognitive biases (confirmation bias and order effect) and the effectiveness of HCI (human-computer interaction) debiasing feature based on the principle of cognitive system switching; and (c) an experimental study on the detection of selected social cognitive biases (authority bias and ethnic-name prejudice) and the effectiveness of HCI debiasing feature based on the principle of behavioral nudging. Preliminary findings identified 40 empirical research articles containing 56 studies on cognitive biases in consumer OHIS from 1995 to 2019 with 75% of the articles published in the last decade. Optimistic bias and confirmation bias are the most studied cognitive biases out of the 16 biases identified. Behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman has the most theoretical presence, while more recent behavioral economic insights such as nudge are not present. In terms of health topics, 35% of studies addressed specific diseases and illness, while 17.5% addressed consumer health issues such as food and nutrition. Note: Study 1 is completed and submitted to a journal under review. The data collection and analysis for study 2 and 3 are currently underway and will be finalized by this coming summer. The camera-ready version of this document has an amended/shortened abstract.
Issue Date:2020-10-13
Genre:Conference Poster
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-28

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