Webology, Volume 4, Number 4, December, 2007

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Book Review

Nahl, Diane & Bilal, Dania (Eds.). Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. Published by Information Today, 143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750, USA. 2007, XXX, 360 p., Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-57387-310-9, 59.50$

Information behaviour is one of the most researched areas in library and information sciences and yet there are areas that have not received enough attention. This is because of the complexity of human behaviour, broadness of the area of information behaviour and constant changes in the information services and the way we make use of information for different aspects of our lives. We have witnessed the development of different paradigms, theories and models in information behaviour research over the last half-century of serious research in this area. As the time passes we can see the different aspects in the field of information behaviour research become granulated and form the focus of new research domains. One of these less researched areas is the role of emotion in our information behaviour. The new edited book Information and Emotion plays an important role in establishing the affective and emotional dimensions in human information behaviour as a developing research area.

The book is a collection of an introduction by Diane Nahl and seventeen chapters by twenty four contributors. The introduction briefly presents some background information on the research in the area of affect and emotion in information science and then it introduces the content of the book and summarises the individual chapters.

The chapters are organised into four parts. The first part which is 'theoretical frameworks' creates a theoretical context for integrating emotions into the information environment to reflect the centrality of the affective domain in all human activity. The first chapter of this section presents a social-biological information technology model of information behaviour, provides a theoretical justification, and presents evidence for the model from user studies. The second chapter focuses on the main child-development theories and children's cognitive and affective abilities and their relation to information behaviour. The third chapter is a study based on the sense-making methodology and it gives a different approach to the study of emotions in information behaviour. The last chapter of this section reports an investigation that explores 'enough' in information seeking. The study shows the complex and fluid nature of the judgment of enough information and the role that affect plays in all components of this judgement.

The second part, macro-emotional information environment, presents details on how the flow of emotions is actualized in the information practice of people on their daily round. The five chapters of this part of the book explore affective aspects of different groups of people. Among the issues address in the studies presented in this part of the book are: possible correlation between social-emotional maturity and high school students' research processes and projects, affective aspects of critical care nurses' on-duty information behaviour and whether they expose or hide those feelings from the patient, children's interactions with books selected for recreational reading, the role of affect in undergraduate information behaviour, and rogue users' behaviour in online communities.

'Micro-emotional information environment' is the third part of the book that discusses the micro-components of emotionality that shape the information experience and condition its behavioural manifestations in a variety of settings. Research questions and issues address in the five chapters of this part of the book include the role of affective dimensions in information behaviour practices, affective dimensions of information behaviour of stay-at-home mothers, the potential association between critical thinking dispositions and library anxiety among college students, and the relation between people's self-perceptions of being information literate and the way they approach online information in everyday use in the public library setting. Furthermore, one of the chapters in this section illustrates a method for gathering evidence of a user's frustrating experiences and a method for categorizing frustrating experiences while using interactive systems.

The last part of the book is dedicated to 'special information environments'. The studies presented in this part of the book document the emotional intensification of the information environment when a break occurs in human symbiosis with technology, due to physical disability or demographic estrangement from the information culture. There are three chapters in this part of the book. The first chapter explores information behaviour, including the issues of access, from the perspective of people living in a socially excluded community and it emphasises the key role of affective aspects, particularly trust. The study shows that affective aspects (trust and interpersonal skills) were vital to successful information and help seeking for the studied community. The second chapter investigates emotional aspects of information seeking of blind people and the last chapter focuses on the interactions between emotions, actions and learning as a process of construction during sense making in a culturally alien information environment.

Overall, the studies presented in the book cover several affective and emotional aspects of information behaviour of different groups of people in different contexts. While the first three chapters of the book provide helpful theoretical information about research on emotional aspects of information behaviour, the other chapters present a vareity of research questions as well as methodologies that can be applied to investigate them. Therefore the book can be a source of inspiration for those graduate students and researchers interested in this area of human information behaviour. The book is a valuable addition to the ASIST Monograph Series and a second enlightening book coming out of the SIG USE research community after the Theories of Information Behavior. The publication of this book can be a turning point for establishing a research community and literature related to the affective and emotional aspects of human information behaviour.


Hamid R. Jamali
E-mail: h.jamali (at) gmail.com
School of Library, Archive and Information Studies
University College London

Bibliographic information of this book review for citing:

Jamali, Hamid R. (2007). "Review of: Nahl, D. & Bilal, D. (Eds.). Information and emotion: the emergent affective paradigm in information behavior research and theory." Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2007. Webology, 4 (4), Book Review 11. Available at: http://www.webology.org/2007/v4n4/bookreview11.html

Copyright © 2007, Hamid R. Jamali.