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ARTICLE: What predicts information overload when reading news online?

Picture: Combined Overwhelming City Lights by Muhammad Mansour, license CC BY 2.0 & profile silhouette by Hans, license CC0 1.0

People who are confident about their capability to seek information experienced less information overload, a new study finds. Josephine B. Schmitt, of the University of Cologne, Christina A. Debbelt, of the University of Hohenheim & Frank M. Schneider, of the University of Mannheim studied predictors of information overload (IO) with online news.

The authors conducted an online survey in Germany (419 recipients) asking about online news exposure, information-seeking skills, staying informed, motivation for news consumption, perception of IO, and their information retrieval strategies. Several source-related and personal factors were found.

Results show that younger people with less information-seeking self-efficacy experienced more overload. There was no relationship between gender and IO nor between different online information sources and IO. People who are using online news for entertainment felt less overloaded. Self-efficacy was also an important predictor for not feeling overwhelmed.

Four information-seeking strategies implied overload: individuals who used push notifications, people using search function on a news site, people who always visit the same sites as news sources, and having no specific strategy.

The article “Too much information?” was published in Information, Communication & Society and is available online (free abstract).

Picture: Combined Overwhelming City Lights by Muhammad Mansour, license CC BY 2.0  & profile silhouette by Hans, license CC0 1.0

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