For the love of information: Motivations and affective dynamics of surfing the web for pleasure

Ziad Matni, Chirag Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The World Wide Web (the Web) is ubiquitous in people's lives today and is used on a daily basis to get information on a variety of topics. While information seeking behavior has been studied extensively in a Web setting, many of these studies assume a task-oriented search for information even though much of the information seeking on the Web is not necessarily done with previously stated information needs or goals. Some Web information seeking activity is done for purposes of entertainment, or for simply connecting with other people (for example, via social media websites), oftentimes with an unstructured, serendipitous approach. Information seeking in general, and information acquisition, in particular, is a pleasurable activity in and of itself. Surfing the Web for pleasure is a prominent activity and worthy of our attention as researchers. To do so, we need an appropriate framework. This paper borrows ideas from a social-cognitive approach to the uses and gratifications paradigm in order to investigate the suitability of that framework in a Web information access setting. More specifically, we use the answers from questions we asked to 180 survey respondents about their motivations for surfing the Web for pleasure and their affective states during and after their surfing sessions. The findings indicate that the social-cognitive approach to uses and gratifications is a useful baseline. We make enhancements to it and propose our own framework for research in this area. We present data to bolster the notion that the seeking and acquisition of information brings pleasure and we propose a framework to study user motivations and affective states both during and after their "surfing the Web for pleasure" sessions. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Affective dynamics
  • Information behavior
  • Motivations
  • Pleasure surfing


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