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Information behaviour in high risk decision making: study of international postgraduates.

McNicholas, Carolyn; Marcella, Rita


Carolyn McNicholas


This article explores the role of information in high risk consumer decision making. Forty-two qualitative interviews were undertaken with international non-EU postgraduates when making the high risk decision to study in a UK Business School. Prospective international postgraduates moved iteratively through the stages in Kuhlthau's Information Search Process model and learnt from the search process they had undertaken in a continuous cyclical manner. Word-of-mouth recommendations were the most influential sources of information gathered, and online sources were perceived to be credible regardless of their origins. The perception of risk impacted the rigour of the information search process. An iterative decision making cycle model is proposed with Kuhlthau's model and word of mouth information at its core, which reflects the connectedness of individuals in this digital era. This study provides new insights by combining both marketing and LIS models and extends Kuhlthau's research into a new context.


MCNICHOLAS, C. and MARCELLA, R. 2022. Information behaviour in high risk decision making: study of international postgraduates. Journal of information science [online], Online First. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 12, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 12, 2022
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 27, 2022
Journal Journal of information science
Print ISSN 0165-5515
Electronic ISSN 1741-6485
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Decision making; Information behaviour; Information search; Information sources; Postgraduate student
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