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Information Overload Bibliography

Garner, C. (1998, January 1).  Dazed and confused we hurtle towards 2000.  The Independent [London]. Available:  Dow Jones Interactive [1/5/99].
Provides details on Dr. David Lewis' schema of 5 different personality types for dealing with life's complexities.

Gilbert,  D.T., Trafarodi, R.W., & Malone, P.S. (1993).  You can't not believe everything you read. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 221-233.
Experiments performed show that comprehension of information includes an intial belief in the data comprehended.  The Spinozan theory of belief "suggests that belief is first, easy, and inexorable and that doubt is retroactive, difficult, and only occasionally sucessful."  Students who were under cognitive load, interrupted, or under time pressure believed false information and used it in making subsequent decisions.  According to Gilbert, in order to correct false information, people need: 1) a set of rules for logical analysis; 2) a set of true beliefs to serve as standards; and 3) ability and motivation to perform such analysis and revision.

Gilbert, D.T. (1991).  How mental systems believe.  American Psychologist, 46, 107-119.
Believing the truth of ideas is an automatic and involuntary part of comprehension.  Even if people are warned in advance that the information presented will be false, they nevertheless temporarily encode it as true.  Doubt and rejection are secondary processes and involve conscious effort.  Developmentally the ability to deny or negate propositions is one of the last linguistic abilities acquire by children. (In order to comprehend a negative statement, people must first comprehend the corresponding affirmative statement.)

The disposition to believe what is presented is evident even when people are presented with possible hypotheses:  they will seek evidence to confirm the hypothesis unless they are asked to comprehend both the hypothesis and its contrary.  Because evaluating and "falsifying" ideas is secondary and conscious, it is resource intensive.  When adults are subjected to great stress or heavy cognitive load, the ability to doubt and reject ideas is impaired.

Gilbert, D.T., Krull, D.S., & Malone, P.S. (1990).  Unbelieving the unbelieveable:  some problems in the rejection of false information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59. 601-613.
Both true and false information are initially represented in the mind as true.  Even when students knew ahead of time that information would be false, they were not able to represent the information initially as false.  Rejecting ideas or labelling them as false requires a second step separate from comprehension/acceptance.  Interruptions and cognitive load decrease the possibility that students will correct false information.

Gilbert, D.T., & Osborne, R.E. (1989).  Thinking backward:  some curable and incurable consequences of cognitive busyness.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 940-949.
Students under cognitive load tended to gain false impression due to their inability to process situational contextual cues.  When given an opportunity to reevaluate, busy students spontaneously corrected their impressions.  If students were not given time to reassess their impressions, subsequent information processing was contaminated by the false impressions.  Once false impressions have spread, they are difficult to remove from an individual's web of belief.

Kuhlthau, C. C. ( 1993).  Seeking Meaning:  A Process Approach to Library and Information Services.  Norwood, N.J.:  Ablex.
Presents a process approach to doing research based on cognitive psychology.  For a detailed chart of research process and the cognitive and psychological aspects which accompany it, see Kulthau's Model of the Stages of the Information Process .

Lehtonen, J. (1988).  The information society and the new competence. American Behavioral Scientist, 32, 104-111.
The "information society" has an imbalance between information input and information output which results in conginitve dissonance and information overload.  In such situations, people cope by reducing the amount of information through schemas.  Some people uncritically defer to authorities or "escape to religions, myths, and dogmas."  Impressions instead of knowledge are valued. Visual media become very influential.  It will be crucial that people are able to evaluate information consciously and critically.  Teaching people to process information becomes essential.

McCune, J.C. (1998).  Data, data everywhere.  Management Review, 87, 10-12.
Delineates the results of the Reuter's survey on information overload.  Discusses the symptoms of  "information fatigue syndrome."

Milgram, S.  (1970).  The experience of living in cities:  adaptations to urban overload create characteristic qualities of city life that can be measured.  Science, 167, 1461-1468.
People adapting to the stimulus overload of urban environments react by: allocating less time to each input, disregarding low-priority inputs, shifting the burden to the other party in some social situations, screening social contacts, creating filtering devices to diminish the intensity of inputs, and creating special social institutions to handle certain types of interactions.

Miller, G.A. (1956).  The magical number seven, plus or minus two:  some limits on our capacity for  processing information.  Psychological Review, 63, 81-97. (Full text of this article at The Magical Number Seven. (new window))
Human beings have severe limitations on the amount of information they are able to receive, process, and remember.  Their "span of immediate memory"  or "channel capacity" is limited to approximately 7--plus or minus two-- items.  Through recoding items so that information to be remembered is  placed in larger "chunks,"  it is possible to expand this channel capacity somewhat.

Rader, M.H. (1981).  Dealing with information overload.  Personnel Journal, 60(5), 373-375.
Discusses the stress caused by information overload.  Hints for reducing stress and promoting health are provided.

Richards, C.E. (1987).  Roles:  A Strategy to Avoid Information Overload.  Central Issues in Anthropology, 7(1), 9-12.
The research makes it clear that (a) the human brain is limited in its ability to process data, (b) the limitation is not susceptible to training, and (c) it is approximately the same for all humans."  Given the above, Richards states that human interaction would place an information overload on individuals without the templates provided by roles based on gender, age, kinship, and compartative power.  As societies increase in population, the number of recognized roles decreases due to this inherent processing limitation.

Shenck, D.  (1997).  Data smog:  surviving the information glut.  San Francisco:  HarperEdge.
Details the social and psychological consequences of information overload.  Provides 13 "Laws of Data Smog" and 5 antidotes for the problem.

Wurman, R.S. (1987).  Information Anxiety.   NY:  Doubleday.
Examines the anxiety caused by "the ever-widening gap between what we understand and what we think we should understand."  Strategies for accessing and understanding information and for coping with information overload are presented.

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March 30, 1999
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