Evolutionary approaches to information science research and information use



Panel Description

For more than twenty years, many leading social scientists have been exploring the question: How has evolution shaped human cognition and behavior? (Barkow, Tooby & Cosmides, 1992; Buss, 1995). Many social scientists are developing their fields of inquiry within a human evolutionary framework, including evolutionary biology, evolutionary ecology, evolutionary psychiatry, evolutionary psychology, and cognitive archeology. Incorporating the study of information use into an evolutionary framework broadens considerably the traditional information science concern for information and problem solving, task performance and the sources/channels of information seeking.

Important and challenging issues for the field of information science are the relationship between information and evolution, and how evolution has shaped information behavior, specifically information use. The panel will discuss the recent emergence of evolutionary theory within information science research (Bates, 2005; Madden, Bryson & Palimi, 2006; Spink & Cole, 2004, 2005, 2007; Spink & Currier, 2006a,b). The nature of information and information behavior is being increasingly understood as a product of biological evolution (Spink & Cole, 2004, 2006, 2007) within a heuristic conceptualization and interdisciplinary framework for examining the nexus of human beings, information behaviors and human evolution. The goal of information science research within an evolutionary approach is to understand the role of information in human evolution, and how information use behaviors have evolved across the arc of human existence.

Each member of the proposed panel has written about different aspects of an evolutionary approach to information science research. The panel will discuss different aspects of the emerging evolutionary approach, including relevant studies, key research questions and areas for further research.