Cognitive Differences

:
Personal characteristics facet Jacek Gwizdka
Assistant Professor Department of Library and Information Science

CONTACT:

www.jsg.tel

What types of cognitive differences?
• Cognitive ability – refers to some aspect human ability to perform cognitive tasks, that is, tasks ‘in which correct and appropriate processing of mental information is critical to successful performance’ (Carroll, 1993)
– Best known systems of cognitive abilities is Carroll’s 3-stratum theory – Examples of cognitive abilities: Working memory, Spatial ability, Verbal closure

• Cognitive style – personality dimension that influences how people collect, analyze, evaluate, and interpret information (Harrison & Rainer, 1992)
– Example of cognitive style: field dependence / field independence (FD/FI)

What is being personalized?
• Information presentation • Information interaction style

Individual Differences – Example 1
Cognitive differences and information finding in web directories

Individual Differences – FD/FI : definition
Cognitive Style: field-dependence / independence (FD / FI) FD
holistic perception (whole objects) global focus external references passive in locating information

FI
analytic perception (parts) focus on detail internal references active in locating information

Witkin et al. (1971)

Individual Differences – FD/FI : implications
Cognitive Style: field-dependence / independence (FD / FI) FD
less information externally imposed structure extra guidance sorted by relevance

FI
more (dense) information own structure locate info directly alphabetical organization

category / sub-category organization breadth
(more main cats, less sub-cats)

depth

(less main cats, more sub-cats)

separate category levels

category levels shown together

Example 1 – Web Directory Presentation
Field Dependent Field Independent

sorted by relevance

sorted alphabetically

one level of categories

multiple levels of categories

From: Chen, S. Y., Magoulas, G. D., & Macredie, R. D. (2004). Cognitive styles and users’ responses to structured information representation. International Journal on Digital Libraries, V4(2), 93-107.

Individual Differences – Example 2
Cognitive differences and information keeping in & out of email

From: Gwizdka, J. (2004). Email task management styles: The cleaners and the keepers. CHI '04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Vienna, Austria. 1235 - 1238. : ACM Press. DOI: 10.1145/985921.986032 http://bit.ly/email_keep_clean

Individual Differences – FD/FI : definition
Cognitive Style: field-dependence / independence (FD / FI) FD
holistic perception (whole objects) global focus external references passive in locating information

FI
analytic perception (parts) focus on detail internal references active in locating information

Witkin et al. (1971)

Example 2 – Information Keeping in Email
Can we relate difference in email habits with cognitive styles?
The Cleaners: transfer time sensitive messages The Keepers: keep time sensitive messages
(e.g., to-do’s)

from email

in email

Email Habit Variables
Keep events in email Keep to-do's in email Search in email

The Cleaners
no no no

The Keepers
yes yes yes

From: Gwizdka, J. (2004). Email task management styles: The cleaners and the keepers. CHI '04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Vienna, Austria. 1235 - 1238. : ACM Press. DOI: 10.1145/985921.986032 http://bit.ly/email_keep_clean

Example 2 – Information Keeping in Email
Can we relate difference in email habits with cognitive styles?
The Cleaners: transfer time sensitive messages The Keepers: keep time sensitive messages
(e.g., to-do’s)

from email

in email

Field dependent Email Habit Variables
Keep events in email Keep to-do's in email Search in email

Field independent The Keepers
yes yes yes

The Cleaners
no no no

From: Gwizdka, J. (2004). Email task management styles: The cleaners and the keepers. CHI '04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Vienna, Austria. 1235 - 1238. : ACM Press. DOI: 10.1145/985921.986032 http://bit.ly/email_keep_clean

Individual Differences – Example 3
Cognitive differences and information finding
search results overview (tag cloud)

Gwizdka, J. (2009). "What a difference a tag cloud makes: effects of tasks and cognitive abilities on search results interface use" Information Research, 14(4) paper 414 http://bit.ly/tagcloud_search

Individual Differences – Example 3
• User Interface - List

Individual Differences – Example 3
• User Interface – List + Overview

Example 3 – Information Finding using Overview
• Cognitive ability: Verbal Closure = The ability to identify visually presented words when some letters are missing, scrambled, or embedded among other letters (Ekstrom, 1976). • Overview made low verbal closure people more efficient (38 vs. 60 seconds per query reformulation) • Overview made high verbal closure people faster (146s vs. 240s, at the same level of efficiency ~33s per query reformulation)

Gwizdka, J. (2009). "What a difference a tag cloud makes: effects of tasks and cognitive abilities on search results interface use" Information Research, 14(4) paper 414 http://bit.ly/tagcloud_search

Yes, Individual Differences - So What?
Approaches:

• provide alternative interfaces for different users • create interfaces that can be adapted by users • create interfaces that adapt to users

Thank You
Questions? Jacek Gwizdka
Dept. of Library & Information Science School of Communication and Infromation Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ, USA http://www.jsg.tel

http://www.comminfo.rutgers.edu/~jacekg/ http://www.gwizdka.com

This research was partially funded by a grant from IMLS: LG-06-07-0105-07 “Personalization of the Digital Library Experience”
© Jacek Gwizdka 17

Cognitive Load and Web Search Tasks
• Understand mental demands of search tasks and interfaces

higher average cognitive load: Q & B

higher peak cognitive load: C

CONTACT:

www.jsg.tel

user interface differences: L

Example 3 – Information Finding using Overview
• Cognitive ability: Verbal Closure = The ability to identify visually presented words when some letters are missing, scrambled, or embedded among other letters.

Low Verbal Closure List Overview (list + tags) 238 206 4 5.5 59.5 37.5

High Verbal Closure 240 146 7 4.5 34.3 32.4

Gwizdka, J. (2009). "What a difference a tag cloud makes: effects of tasks and cognitive abilities on search results interface use" Information Research, 14(4) paper 414 http://bit.ly/tagcloud_search

Individual Differences – Example 5
Cognitive differences and information scanning (in email)

Example 5 - Scanning Email Messages
Scanning Task: find message in inbox based on partial header info Differences in cognitive abilities: working memory WM, visual
memory VM, flexibility of closure CF

UI-”Visual”

UI-”Text”

(Gwizdka, CASCON’2002, PhD’2004, Interacting with Computers’2004)

Example 5 - Scanning Email Messages
• better visual memory
• (mv1 & mv2)
1.0

Scrolling
0.8 scrolldt

scrollt scrollct

  less scrolling • better working memory
scrollmt

CF
0.6

• (wm)
sorttodt

0.4

cf2

 less sorting
sorttoct

2 r o t c a F

0.2

WM
wmahc1

0.0

MV1

MV2

Sorting

sorttot sorttomt

better • flexibility of closure
• (cf2)

-0.2 mv1 -0.4 -1.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5

mv2

  more scrolling
1.0

Individual Differences - Example 4
Cognitive differences and information search
(different search engines and interfaces)

Individual Differences – Example 4
“plain” result list Google

“faceted” search - ALVIS

© Jacek Gwizdka

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Example 4: Results cognitive ability and UI
Working Memory (WM) influenced task performance on ALVIS, but not on Google
• hi-WM more search effort on ALVIS (more pages, more bookmarks, spent more time) than on Google • lo-WM less effort on ALVIS than on Google
search effort high WM

low WM Google ALVIS

Cognitive Differences
facet; Task facet)

(Personal characteristics

• People differ with respect to their information processing ability and their preferred cognitive style. These differences affect how they interact with information search systems. I argue that personalization should take into account a whole range of factors, including the person’s cognitive abilities. In the world of scarce attention, a system that does not match cognitive abilities may require extra cognitive processing and impose an unnecessary cognitive load. This extra load may prevent the person from completing their information tasks and may even lead to the system avoidance or abandonment. I will present some findings that demonstrate the effects of the cognitive differences among people on their execution of information tasks.  
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