Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

An Empirical Study of Instant Messaging (IM) Behavior Using Theory of Reasoned Action

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

An Empirical Study of Instant Messaging (IM) Behavior Using Theory of Reasoned Action

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Instant messaging (IM) as a form of communication offers unique advantages to traditional email communication centered mostly on its immediacy. Levels of IM use are significantly less than email especially in business organizations. In order to understand IM behavior and encourage its adoption, this manuscript explores IM behavior using the Ajzen & Fishbein (1980) model of human behavior known as Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). Attitude toward IM and "subjective norm" are positively associated with intention to use instant messaging. The TRA model can be used to predict and understand the usage of instant messaging in the target population.

Keywords: Theory of Reasoned Action, TRA, instant messaging, factor analysis, structural equation modeling.

Introduction

One of the most important means of communication for young people today is instant messaging. Instant messaging is generally defined as a form of communication where text messages can be exchanged synchronously between users via a web-based client interface. Each user downloads a client to his/her personal computer, creates an account with an IM provider who acts as a clearing house for communications, and then logs in to this IM provider. By logging in, a user establishes a "presence" in the IM provider system and other users of the system are notified of the user's presence. This notification is made available to other users who are logged on to the system at that time and who have previously accepted and exchanged messages (becoming "buddies" or some other such category). The software shows who is available, at which point the user selects an individual with whom they would like to exchange a message, and the message is typed in an easy to use interface and sent. Responses are facilitated through the interface as well. In this way, messages can be simply exchanged between available parties (Wilkins, 2007). Ilie, Van Slyke, Green and Lou (2005) calls it a "private chat room" (p. 18).

Instant messaging as a form of communication offers unique advantages to traditional email communications, centered mostly on its immediacy. But levels of IM use are significantly less than email usage, especially in business organizations. This study is an attempt to understand IM behavior and encourage its adoption, by exploring the instant messaging behavior using the Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) model of human behavior known as Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). Specifically, findings reveal that both attitude toward instant messaging and "subjective norm" are positively associated with intention to use IM. In addition, intention influences use of instant messaging. The TRA model provides a strong fit with the overall data and can be used to predict and understand the usage of instant messaging in the target population. Specific recommendations to increase IM usage are proposed.

Motivation for Study

In 2003, the Giga Information Group, a market research firm, estimated that IM would become a mission-critical tool" by the end of 2004. Giga also predicted that the enterprise IM market would "grow 200 percent annually" (Lawton, 2003, p. 14). In a survey completed by Pew Internet Organization, only 12% of Internet users employed the Internet for instant messaging versus 45% who were using the Internet for email (Rainie & Horrigan, 2005). Moreover, while nearly all companies use email, only 35% of organizations use instant messaging (AMA, 2006). This is despite the fact that a study of users of both email and instant messaging preferred instant messaging because the advantages of IM are "conveying emotions, building relationships, and ease of use" (Lancaster, Yen, Huang, & Hung, 2007, p. 5).

The disparity between email and IM use varies by age. Instant messaging has been rapidly accepted and adopted by individuals between the ages of 8 and 28. But IM as a form of communication is growing in popularity and is becoming more prevalent in the workplace. …

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