• search behavior;
  • motivation;
  • communications activities

This study examines how the goal orientation of individuals, rather than the goals of a search task, influences information search behavior for 2 discrete stages of the Internet search process. In an Internet-based experiment (N = 106) with temporarily activated motivational orientation (promotion vs. prevention) and message goal frames (gain vs. loss) as independent variables, it was demonstrated that participants selected information that was congruent with their motivational orientation although they did not necessarily spend more time attending to their selection. Participants with the promotion orientation exhibited more scanning behavior and viewed more web pages but spent less time on the Internet search. Congruency effects resulted in higher user engagement, which mediated the congruency effects on the perceived message quality of the health content.