A search for information man / Roberts(1982)

Citation - Roberts, N. (1982). A search for information man. Social Science Information Studies, 2(2), 93-104.

keyword - information behavior

  • this paper examines the notion of “information man” by analogy with “economic man”
  • this paper seeks to discover how the concept has been used implicitly in user studies and bibliometrics.
  • conclusion:
    • this paper argues that information man is to be found in such studies
    • the reasons for this are examined.
    • more sophisticated versions of information man are seen to be emerging from some recent work

the characteristics distinguish information man for general human

  • indulging reasoning information act, i.e., possessing a full knowledge of available information sources allowing the selection of the 'best' source for a specific purpose; accepting and applying information so that 'best' decisions result.
  • Whereas classical economic man was made to inhabit a world shaped by economic considerations primitive information man lives in a world shaped by the need to generate, obtain and use information; no other form of activity capable of influencing information behaviour is allowed to intrude.
  • Undertaking information activities within recognizably artificial information environments, e.g., the formal information system of a single organization.


使用者研究是歸納的(inductive), 是收集「事實」(facts),並將之轉為對可應用與具概化力的行為變項陳述

information man 在使用者研究中的隱含假設

  • information man's behavior is relatively stable over time; there are very few longitudinal studies to suggest an interest in contrary view.
  • That information behavior may be described adequately in terms of relationships with information systems of artificially limited potential, e.g., a library and its documents, a rigorously delimited group of specialists, use of certain forms of printed records.
  • That motives impelling individuals to the use of information systems are evident enough not to require systematic investigation, and that aspects of behaviour other than the direct obtaining and use of information are irrelevant to the understanding of the information process.
  • That there exists a direct, and positive, relationship between such behavior consequences as productivity, effectiveness, efficiency, achievement, etc. and the usage of information and information systems.
  • That information behavior is rationally motivated and organized. Those studies which embody the 'who knows better than the user' view fall into this class. Numerous studies, however, express concern at the non-rational, or imperfect, information behavior of studied groups (see, e.g., Ford, 1977:70; Hounsell, 1980). A difficulty associated with such views is that, usually, the observed elements of non-rationality are derived from a comparison with the information seeking practices of information scientists rather than from evaluations of rationality based upon individual information requirements in a context of available time, opportunity costs, possible consequences, etc. Although it might be claimed that information scientists have a vested interest in making such critical observations of information seeking behavior, such deviations from rationality have rarely been employed to alter working assumptions regarding information man, although they could be claimed to influence service attitudes and practices.



  • 行為主義的研究取向不具演繹邏輯的基礎。
    • 即使近幾年資訊科學家已經察覺此事(不具演繹邏輯),但仍為被說服重新建構其假定為一種更實在論(realistic)的形式。相反地,資訊科學研究朝向發展出更精細的研究方法,而非改變其假定。
    • 此一基本教義派式的歸納取向,隱蔽了將理論講明白,使資訊人的概念成為資訊科學分析工具的需求。
    • 缺乏此一理論性假定的釐清,使得使用者研究只能在特定事物上,而限制其研究結果的進一步概化與運用。
    • 資訊學者的實用主義傾向與非社會科學背景,也阻礙了學科對此問題的重視與解決。
  • 追根究底,所有資訊活動都可化約為個人動機與行動。情勢可想為 由 形塑確定的資訊行為傾向 導向 成為分析工具。
    • 顯然,這並沒有發生。
    • 大家都認為資訊科學研究結果缺乏進一步概化與理論化的能力。唯一的普遍法則只有「最小努力原則」,而這實際上此原則也並不歸功於任何資訊學者由資訊行為研究中獲得的成就。
    • 更掃興的意見是,理論性的(資訊)科學是難以存在的,因為不論隱含的或顯著都沒有共通的假定可作為理論的基礎(Brookes, 1980)。