Information search in the laboratory and on the Web: With or without an experimenter


The focus of this study is the effect of the location (laboratory vs. Web) of experiments on active information search in decision-making tasks. In two experiments, participants were confronted with two different search method versions (list vs. keyword) for acquiring information about a task from a database. The amount and type of information gathered and the time required for task completion were measured. In Experiment 1, significantly more information was searched for in the laboratory than on the Web when the list version was employed, whereas there was no difference between locations in the keyword version. In Experiment 2, the participants were assigned randomly to the Web or the laboratory condition. The results of Experiment 1 were replicated. Whereas location (and the presence or ab- sence of an experimenter) had an effect on the absolute amount of information gathered in both ex- periments, the relative distribution and type of information items did not differ.

Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers