Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '12
An empirical study was conducted to investigate how older and younger users learned by performing exploratory search of health information using an interface that recommended relevant links based on browsing histories. While older and younger users gained both factual and structural knowledge about the health topics, significant age differences were observed. Our results showed that processing of recommended and regular Web links imposed distinct demands on cognitive abilities, which at least partially explained the observed age differences in the search process. The use of recommended links was positively associated with general knowledge, while the use of regular Web links was positively associated with processing capacity. Results also showed that the recommended links benefited both younger and older adults by broadening the exploration of information, which led to better learning. Implications on designs of health information interfaces that facilitate exploratory search and learning for different age groups were discussed.