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Information Scanning

Robert Hornik and Jeff Niederdeppe

Subject Communication Reception and Effects » Information Processing and Cognitions

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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Information scanning concerns information acquisition from routine patterns of exposure to mediated and interpersonal sources. The essential idea is that even when individuals are not actively seeking information on a specific topic, routine use of media and interactions with other people yield exposures to information that affect knowledge, beliefs, and behavior. For many issues and behaviors, scanning may be far more frequent than active information seeking. While influence per scanned exposure may be less than for each instance of sought exposure, the cumulative effects of scanning may often be greater, given their greater volume (→  Exposure to Communication Content ; Selective Exposure ; Information Processing ). Information scanning studies stand in juxtaposition to two related topics: →  information seeking and →  Media Effects . Models of information seeking typically assume that an individual has uncertainty (‘should I obtain a mammogram?’) and engages in active seeking of information to reduce or resolve that uncertainty. The information scanning perspective asserts that often uncertainty is not salient enough to drive active seeking, but an individual has enough foundational knowledge and interest to produce →  attention and retention when information flows by. Routine exposure to a magazine article, for example, may provide relevant information about benefits (or ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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