Uncertainty promotes information-seeking actions, but what information?

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Navigating an unfamiliar city almost certainly brings out uncertainty about getting from place to place. This uncertainty, in turn, triggers information gathering. While navigational uncertainty is common, little is known about what type of information people seek when they are uncertain. The primary choices for information types with environments include landmarks (distal or local), landmark configurations (relation between two or more landmarks), and a distinct geometry, at least for some environments. Uncertainty could lead individuals to more likely seek one of these information types. Extant research informs both predictions about and empirical work exploring this question. This review covers relevant cognitive literature and then suggests empirical approaches to better understand information-seeking actions triggered by uncertainty. Notably, we propose that examining continuous navigation data can provide important insights into information seeking. Benefits of continuous data will be elaborated through one paradigm, spatial reorientation, which intentionally induces uncertainty through disorientation and cue conflict. While this and other methods have been used previously, data have primarily reflected only the final choice. Continuous behavior during a task can better reveal the cognition-action loop contributing to spatial learning and decision making.




Keller, A. M., Taylor, H. A., & Brunyé, T. T. (2020, December 1). Uncertainty promotes information-seeking actions, but what information? Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-020-00245-2

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