Understanding Differences in Web Usage: The Role of Need for Cognition and the Five Factor Model of Personality

By Tuten, Tracy L.; Bosnjak, Michael | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Understanding Differences in Web Usage: The Role of Need for Cognition and the Five Factor Model of Personality


Tuten, Tracy L., Bosnjak, Michael, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Using the Five-factor model of personality and Need for Cognition, the authors investigated the relationship between personality and Web usage. Of the five factors, Openness to Experience and Neuroticism showed the greatest association to Web usage. Openness to Experience was positively related to using the Web for entertainment and product information, while Neuroticism was negatively related to Web usage. Need for Cognition was significantly and positively correlated with all Web activities involving cognitive thought

Interest in Internet usage is reflected in the many organizations that strive to accurately describe who is using the Web and for what purposes. Such organizations include the GVU's Web User Survey, Cyberdialogue, NUA Internet Surveys and others. However, such descriptions of Web usage do not provide a picture of the users themselves. In other words, what might cause differences in Web usage among various users? This study sought to bridge this gap by investigating the relationship between personality traits and Web usage, and reports the results of a survey which assessed the Big Five personality traits, Need for Cognition, and Web usage. Prior to the description of the results, the five-factor model of personality and the Need for Cognition are outlined briefly, and the methods used in conducting the study are explained.

THE FIVE-FACTOR MODEL OF PERSONALITY

The five-factor model of personality, sometimes called the Big Five, is used to describe the most important domains of personality. The factors include Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience (Goldberg, 1990, 1992). Extraversion, or Surgency, is commonly thought of as a form of sociability (Judge, Martocchio, & Thoresen, 1997). Adjectives associated with extraversion include talkative, active, assertive, excitement-seeking, and easily bored or distracted (Judge, et al., 1997; Costa & McCrae, 1992). Agreeableness is described by the adjectives courteous, flexible, good-natured, cooperative, and tolerant (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Barrick & Mount, 1991). Conscientiousness, or Dependability, is described as personal competence, self-discipline and deliberation. Individuals who are high in conscientiousness are punctual, reliable, determined, and likely to have a strong need for achievement. Digman and Takemoto-Chock (1981) likened conscientiousness to achievement orientation. Costa and McCrae (1992) emphasized an individual's self-control as the key component of conscientiousness, while Murphy and Lee (1994) linked conscientiousness to honesty and integrity. Individuals who exhibit neuroticism are generally described as fearful, anxious, pessimistic, worried, and insecure (Judge, et al., 1997; Barrick & Mount, 1991). Openness to Experience is sometimes referred to as Intellect (Goldberg, 1990). Adjectives used to describe Openness to Experience include imaginative, curious, original, broad-minded, and intelligent (Barrick & Mount, 1991).

NEED FOR COGNITION

Cacioppo and Petty (1982) proposed that Need for Cognition was a stable individual difference in people's tendency to engage in, and enjoy, effortful cognitive activity. The individual variations in Need for Cognition were proposed as falling along a bipolar continuum from low to high. Individuals high in Need for Cognition are thought to naturally seek, acquire, think about, and reflect on information in their environment. These people are thought of as having positive attitudes towards tasks and stimuli that require reasoning, problem-solving, and effortful thinking (Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein, & Jarvis, 1996). They perceive themselves as being in control of their own fate, effective workers, and as having more knowledge about a wide variety of social issues.

In contrast, individuals low in Need for Cognition prefer to rely upon others, particularly celebrities, and similar simple cues.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Understanding Differences in Web Usage: The Role of Need for Cognition and the Five Factor Model of Personality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?