Bounded rationality and satisficing in young people's Web-based decision making Agosto, Denise E
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology; Jan 2002; 53, 1; ProQuest Business Collection pg. 16
Bounded Rationality and Satisficing in Young People's
Web-Based Decision Making
Denise E. Agosto
College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104 E-mail: Denise.Agosto@cis.drexel.edu This study investigated Simon's behavioral decision-making theories of bounded rationality and satisficing in relation to young people's decision making in the World Wide Web, and considered the role of personal preferences in Web-based decisions. It employed a qualitative research methodology involving group interviews with 22 adolescent females. Data analysis took the form of iterative pattern coding using QSR NUDIST Vivo qualitative data analysis software. Data analysis revealed that the study participants did operate within the limits of bounded rationality. These limits took the form of time constraints, information overload, and physical constraints. Data analysis also uncovered two major satisficing behaviors—reduction and termination. Personal preference was found to play a major role in Web site evaluation in the areas of graphic/multimedia and subject content preferences. This study has related implications for Web site designers and for adult intermediaries who work with young people and the Web. Introduction
In the simplest terms, decision making involves "selecting among possible actions" (Gilhooly, 1988, p. 132). With his theories of bounded rationality and satisficing, Simon
(1955, 1956) suggested that decision makers operate within
time and cognitive limitations that prevent them from eval-
uating all possible decision outcomes. These theories are
largely accepted in relation to adult decision making in
traditional information environments (Tyszka, 1989). How-
ever, these theories have not been rigorously tested in rela- tion to young people's decision making or in relation to
decision making in the World Wide Web environment. The vast majority of user studies employ adults as sub- jects, and computer designers and electronic resource eval-
uators rarely study or consult young people before design-
ing or selecting electronic resources for youth (Druin, 1999; Received August 25, 2000; Revised July 19 2001; accepted August 28, 2001 © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Laurel, 1990). This study turned to young people as sources of knowledge about their own Web-based decision making to investigate the theories of bounded rationality and satisficing. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In addition to examining Simon's theories in relation to selection decisions among multiple Web sites, this study also explored the concept of personal preferences in evaluation decisions within individual Web sites. It was proposed that the evaluation of certain aspects of Web site content and design is a part of what Kuhlthau (1991) called the affective side of information seeking, and that personal preference is tied to affective decision making. It follows that three main research questions framed this study: How, if at all, does Simon's theory of bounded rationality relate to young people's Web-based decision making? How, if at all, does Simon's theory of satisficing relate to young people's Web- based decision making? What is the role of personal preference in young people's Web-based decision making? Theoretical Background
Throughout the early history of decision making research, researchers devised mathematical algorithms to predict purely rational, or optimal, decision making (Tyszka, 1989). Simon (1955, 1956) rejected the idea of optimal choice, proposing the theory of "bounded rationality." He argued that due to time constraints and cognitive limitations, it...
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