Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Big Five Personality Traits as Predictors of Internet Usage Categories

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Big Five Personality Traits as Predictors of Internet Usage Categories

Article excerpt

The Internet is growing by leaps and bounds. Providing its users with growing diversity of services, the Internet is an information provider, and it meets users' demand for social networking, human support, and belonging. The purpose of this article is mainly to identify the major usage categories in which people in Taiwan conduct their Internet activities and to further investigate the effects of personality traits on categories of Internet usage. Some statistical techniques including EFA, CFA, and multiple regressions are applied to conduct this paper. The empirical data identify four main categories of Internet usage, namely entertainment, communication, social relationship, and information gathering. The findings also show that as for the Big Five, openness to experience is a significant and positive predictor for the categories of entertainment, communication, and social relationship while agreeableness has a significantly negative impact on the category of communication. Corporate managerial implications, limitations of this study, and further research ideas for future researchers are also discussed in depth.


The technologies behind the Internet continue to be advanced, broadening the applicability of the Internet into newer fronts. The Internet is not just a platform providing access to information, but also is being thought of as playing the role of a social technology providing its users with human support and giving them a sense of belonging (Hamburger and Ben-Artzi, 2000). People use the Internet in various ways that satisfy their own needs. Some of them use it to achieve self identification and gain emotional support and a sense of belonging, such as dating services, games, and shopping (Sproull and Faraj, 1995). Liu and Arnett (2000) pointed out that the information available on the Internet can give its users a higher level of satisfaction and a sense of receiving benefit, leading them to many ways of Internet usage, for example, information searching, on-line communication or learning for work or academic studies, entertainment, interpersonal relationships management, electronic commerce, and on-line shopping (Scealy et al., 2002; Landers and Lounsbury, 2006).

A person's value and preferences are often reflected in his personality traits (Chen, 2008). A person's personality traits and psychological state influence the formation of his motivation as a consumer and how his behavior varies with that of other people. Personality traits represent relatively enduring characteristics of individuals that show consistencies over their lifespans and across a wide range of situations (Hamel et al., 2000). Past research has shown some correlations between personal traits and personal behaviors, such as school attendance (McShane et al., 2001), blood donations, musical preferences, illegal drugs usage, and sexual behavior. It goes without saying that Internet usage is an important area of people's everyday life. Therefore, it would seem a logical choice to probe into the relationship between personal traits and Internet usage (Landers and Lounsbury, 2006).

One of the most exciting developments in personality psychology has been emerging consensus on the value of the Five-Factor-Model (or "Big Five") as a comprehensive taxonomy of personality (McCrae and Costa, 1991). Although, in recent years there have been studies on the relationship between personality traits and on-line behavior (Hamburger and Ben-Artzi, 2000; Landers and Lounsbury, 2006), scholars have not yet reached a consensus on the relationship between Internet usage and personality traits.

Therefore, we have three objectives for this study. Firstly, we want to understand, identify, and name the categories in which people in Taiwan conduct their Internet activities. Secondly, we hope to arrive at rules to predict which of the Big Five traits the users of an Internet usage category may possess. Third, we hope that the findings in this study will prove helpful for Web marketers to devise better marketing strategies to satisfy the customers' needs and wants. …

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