Why does the negative impact of inconsistent knowledge on web navigation persist?

Keith S. Jones, J. Shawn Farris, Brian R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Farris (2003) discovered that users had greater difficulty finding information on a Web site when their prior knowledge was inconsistent with the Web site's content, relative to when their knowledge was consistent with it. In addition, he found that this difficulty was persistent over trials. To explain this persistence, Farris offered a schema-based account, which instantiated inconsistency in a single manner. These studies tested 2 predictions that were derived from Farris's account. Specifically, Experiment 1 assessed whether schema elaboration would be gradual, whereas Experiment 2 assessed whether task repetition would eliminate the negative impact of inconsistent knowledge. The results associated with navigation efficiency supported the predictions derived from Farris's account. The results associated with the choices made by participants as they navigated the site, however, contradicted the predictions. Anew account, based on production-rules rather than schemata, is offered that considers both sets of results, because it instantiates inconsistency in more than 1 manner. This new account has implications for the design and redesign of Web sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-221
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


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