Searching for an Image Conveying Connotative Meanings: An Exploratory Cross-Cultural Study

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On the basis of the semiotics premise, this exploratory study examined cultural influences that pertain to the image search process when users have connotative needs. The study used the Semantic Differential, a quantitative tool for measuring affective reactions, as well as word-based analysis, to analyze responses to a survey questionnaire administered to twelve Korean and twelve American students. The results demonstrated that even when completing the same task, participants from different backgrounds have different tendencies in expecting and selecting a relevant image. The results supported the semiotics assertion that cultural context results in variations in interpreting the connotative messages of an image, and these variations are restricted by cultural boundaries. The study underlined the potential of using the Semantic Differential to enhance accessibility to connotative messages during the image retrieval process. Based on the findings, some suggestions for image retrieval system design were discussed. This study will broaden understanding of connotative messages in terms of image retrieval and user behaviors. The conclusions will contribute to designing a practical image retrieval system that can provide subject access to connotative messages.

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Library and Information Science Research, v. 30, no. 4, p. 312-318