Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Factors Influencing Search Engine Usage Behavior

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Factors Influencing Search Engine Usage Behavior

Article excerpt

Search engines are programs designed to direct Internet users to a list of relevant websites corresponding to users' requests for information about a topic or subject (Palanisamy, 2014). They are crucial for accessing Internet resources. We defined search engine usage behavior as users' behavior when using online search engines.

According to discretionary behavior theory (Morrison & Phelps, 1999), individual and contextual factors, such as job characteristics and search context, can affect user behavior. Perceived search skills reflect the individual's search capabilities and, thus, are an individual factor. Perceived search engine reliance reflects the user's perception of his or her reliance level on search engines in the context of his/her employment, and is a workplace environment factor. Thus, we believed that the individual's perceived search skills and perceived search engine reliance would affect his/her search engine usage behavior.

Search engine advertising (SEA) is based on user-generated queries in search engines (Narayanan & Kalyanam, 2015). However, some users believe there is too much SEA and they distrust the authenticity of the SEA information. User dissatisfaction with search results negatively impacts future choice of search mode, so that the user may choose a different interface, such as an alternative search engine or another search method (Telang & Mukhopadhyay, 2005). In addition, a negative perception of advertising that arises from perceived advertising clutter or prior negative experience can lead to the user avoiding advertising by closing down pop-up advertisements, or scrolling down from banner advertisements on website pages (Cho & Cheon, 2004) and, thus, their negative perception can indirectly affect users' consumption of the advertising media (Rojas-Méndez, Davies, & Madran, 2009). Thus, we hypothesized that users' negative perceptions of SEA would affect their search engine usage behavior.

In prior research, Lewandowski and Sünkler (2013) found that the effectiveness of search engine performance significantly affected search engine usage. Wu, Chuang, and Chen (2008) analyzed the factors that influence search engine use: the factors that support the user's query process and that provide the basic task context for information seeking to allow users to access the relevant information (hygiene factors); and the factors that help users to navigate, browse, and comprehend the retrieved information related to the task-content aspect of information seeking (motivational factors). Palanisamy (2014) focused on the impact of privacy concerns on use of search engines. Liaw and Huang (2006) studied the effects of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness on search engine use.

However, researchers have paid little attention to the influence of factors influencing search engine use from the perspective of discretionary behavior theory and SEA. Moreover, most of the earlier research on search engine use was based on English-language search engines. China differs from English-speaking countries in terms of both the culture and the language, and Chinese users may display different behavior from those in English-speaking cultures when they encounter SEA. Thus, we studied Chinese-language search engines in the current research.

In contrast to existing research, we introduced discretionary behavior and advertising avoidance theory, and examined the factors influencing search engine usage behavior in the Chinese context. Specifically, we measured two types of search engine usage behavior that we defined as: (a) general usage of search engines, for which we measured the overall user profile of search engines use; and (b) specific use of search engines, for which we measured whether or not users use search engines to obtain information in particular e-commerce situations.


Perceived Search Skills

Perceived search skills are users' subjective perception of their search-engineuse skills (Hsu & Walter, 2015). …

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