Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Human Information Processing - Schroder et al. (1967)

Schroder, Harold M., Michael J. Driver, and Siegfried Streufert. 1967. Human information processing; individuals and groups functioning in complex social situations. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Very old book, but contains many provocative ideas and well-organized thoughts. I am informed that this book is famous among information scientists and cognitive psychologists.

The book is composed of three parts. The first part introduces the authors’ theory (or theories). The main point is the relationship between environmental complexity and complexity of human information processing. Of course, there are other hypotheses that are examined, for example, variations between individuals. The main point is that there are inverted U-shaped relationship between environmental stimuli and complexity of human information processing. In other words, there are optimal point that is achieved around the middle range of environmental stimuli. If the stimuli were less than an optimal point, organisms (including people) are not likely to develop complex thoughts, simple rule based decision-making. However, if the stimuli went too further beyond an optimal point, organisms also less inclined to develop complex thoughts. Thus, educational devices (training, according to the authors’ terms) become optimally effective only when the complexity of such devices (i.e., stimuli) is complex enough.

The second part provides a series of empirical findings that are supportive of the theories in the first part. Most of materials are very old, indicating that methods (based on manual content analyses) and testing tools (based on basic statistical analyses) are simple but robust.

The third part carries the code-books and procedures the authors used, in order to construct their measures. Probably researchers whose research emphases are in applied fields would be interested in the third part.

Substantial and technically informative book, if readers are interested in human psychology of decision-making or reasoning. Some of the chapters, especially those dealing with ambivalence of human reasoning in the first three chapters, sound interesting for public opinion researchers

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