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Purposive and non-purposive information behaviour on Instagram.

Marcella-Hood, Madeleine; Marcella, Rita



User information behaviour on Instagram was explored via 274 responses to an online survey. Instagram is recognised as a powerful visual platform and consistently reports high engagement statistics across its variety of users. Research on Instagram to date has focussed on marketing communications theory, in particular its production of influencers as a new type of celebrity and source. The authors undertook an exploratory study to examine user interaction with the platform from the perspective of information behaviour research. The survey sought data relating to the rich body of information behaviour theory, particularly in relation to the needs or motivations underpinning information seeking, preferred sources of information and criteria for their evaluation, trust of Instagram creators and purposive and non-purposive engagement with information. An evolutionary model of information behaviour on Instagram is proposed, which draws on previous studies of information behaviour. The credibility of information on Instagram was a key theme in the survey findings, with respondents varying in the degree to which they trusted information on the platform and adopting complex, time-consuming and sometimes conflicting strategies to fact check where they felt reliability was important; future research exploring this further is recommended, to help understand the role and motivations of the information seeker in this process. The research also reveals a heightened blurring in comprehension surrounding the concepts of information and opinion amongst users and academics.


MARCELLA-HOOD, M. and MARCELLA, R. 2023. Purposive and non-purposive information behaviour on Instagram. Journal of librarianship and information science [online], 55(3), pages 634-657. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 12, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 1, 2022
Publication Date Sep 30, 2023
Deposit Date Jun 6, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2022
Journal Journal of Librarianship and Information Science
Print ISSN 0961-0006
Electronic ISSN 1741-6477
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 3
Pages 634-657
Keywords Behaviour; Credibility; Influencer; Information; Instagram; Media; Motivation; Seeking; Social; Source
Public URL


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