Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Remaining on Current Social Network Sites: An Unconscious and Conscious Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Remaining on Current Social Network Sites: An Unconscious and Conscious Perspective

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Social network services (SNSs) can be defined as online services, platforms, or websites that enable the construction and reflection of social networks or social relations among individuals [Chiu &Huang 2015]. As SNSs have grown in popularity, individuals have become increasingly reliant on them to establish and maintain online relationships with others. As a consequence, SNSs have also become an important channel for doing business. The growth of the SNS phenomenon has intensified competition among SNS providers. A recent Piper Jaffray survey [CNBC 2016] suggested that Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook must step aside as Snapchat continues to rule among teens. Eighty percent of respondents said that Snapchat was their favorite SNS, unseating Instagram and Facebook. Meanwhile, Facebook saw the largest decline in usage during the same period. A survey by SimilarWeb, a market intelligence firm, found that people are spending less time on popular SNSs (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter) than they were one year ago [ZDNet 2016]. SNSs that used to receive the most attention are now receiving significantly less screen time. Therefore, cultivating people's inertia and enhancing users' intention to continue to use the incumbent SNS is very important for SNS owners.

Kim & Kankanhalli [2009] indicated that when people make a new behavioral decision, status quo bias (SQB) can explain the impacts of the previous status. Status quo bias provides a context-dependent lens to explain why individuals prefer to maintain their current status rather than to change it even though the new status is a better choice [Samuelson & Zeckhauser 1988]. Samuelson & Zeckhauser [1988] argued that individuals' decision making between the status quo and a new situation may be biased on internal factors, such as rational decision making (e.g., habit), cognitive misperceptions (e.g., inertia and perceived value), and psychological commitment (e.g., interpersonal relationships and continuance intention). Status quo bias can explain the phenomenon of people tending to choose their current status, i.e., to continue using their current SNS, rather than switching to another SNS.

Verhoef [2003] indicated that past behaviors explain the largest part of the variance in customer loyalty. More specifically, past behaviors in the relationship would represent the inertia effect [Rust et al. 2000]. In other words, customer loyalty may result from inertia [Colgate & Lang 2001]. Polites & Karahanna [2012] proposed that inertia can reflect a bias toward the status quo. They defined status quo inertia as the attachment to, and persistence of, existing behavioral patterns, even if there are better alternatives and incentives to change. The implication here is that people will stay with their current SNS as long as no other force compels them to change. In other words, individuals who have high inertia will be reluctant to change even though the alternatives are more attractive. In addition, past research examined the role of inertia on the organizational or group level [e.g., Kim & Kankanhalli 2009; Kim et al. 2005] and paid less attention to the individual level in information system research. Therefore, it is valuable to understand the antecedents of inertia in the SNS context. According to Rumelt [1995], embedded routines have been identified as a common source of inertia. In addition, inertia can be seen as part of the unconscious mind, and defined as habit persistence [Rumelt 1995]. Therefore, habit is treated as an unconscious antecedent of inertia in this study. In addition to having its source in the unconscious, inertia can be the result of a conscious bias toward the status quo. One explanation given for status quo bias is interpersonal relationships. People can develop and extend their personal social ties in SNSs. Therefore, personal bonds or friendships may inhibit their willingness to switch to a new SNS. …

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