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Glossary » information foraging

information foraging

a theory of people’s information-consumption behavior, where people are viewed as foraging for information like animals foraging for food. People tend to stay in one place (e.g. on one website) and exhaust the supply of information before moving on. This satisfies a cost/risk tradeoff because moving on to another location may not provide additional useful information. People also refine their goals based on what they find, so you can’t treat information-seeking as having a steady target.

As a result of these considerations, information should be designed to help people determine if they’ve exhausted the supply of information (e.g. by clearly indicating the scope of a website) and should provide opportunities for serendipitous discovery.