Thinking style impacts on Web search strategies

Gloria Yi Ming Kao*, Pei Lan Lei, Chuen-Tsai Sun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Web searches entail complex cognitive processes influenced by individual differences, and users with similar cognitive or skill factors tend to develop multiple search strategies. The authors analyze such strategies in terms of level of thinking style (global versus local), search targets, and six search behavior indicators and report (a) a significant relationship between different thinking style levels and individual search target types and (b) that different thinking style level conditions can cause significant differences in search behavior performance regarding maximum depth of exploration, revisited pages, and Web pages visited for refining answers. The findings suggest that high global style users tend to disperse their targets to comprehend the search task while high local style users elaborate on a few specific topics. Furthermore, high global style users skim more, require less explicit answers, and are less likely to explore an issue in depth compared to high local style or bi-high style individuals. The results confirm that thinking style level is an important factor affecting search intention. To improve search experiences, search engine designers should incorporate human factors into their products so as to take advantage of personal learning approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1330-1341
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2008


  • Human factors
  • Information seeking
  • Search interface design
  • Search strategies
  • Thinking styles

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