Monday, September 22, 2008

Three Media Acceptance Models

There are several models for analyzing the diffusion of new ideas in a culture. Fishbein and Azjen proposed the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) to explain the phenomenon. This model has been widely adapted and discussed but its essence is that someone performs a behavior because of his or her own attitude toward performing the behavior and his or her subjective norm regarding the behavior. The attitude for performing a behavior is an expected value assessment done by the individual (Fishbein, 1976, p 492) based on the returns they see in the behavior. On the other hand, the subjective norm is the influence that significant others have on an individual. Fishbein (p 493) notes

"most people who are important to me think I should (or should not) engage in the behavior would influence intentions…”
Their endorsements of a behavior, or criticism, would affect an individual’s intent to perform. The fusion of both factors, individual attitude and subjective norm determines if the behavior is enacted.

Another widely used model is the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) proposed by Davis. This is an instantiation of the TRA model. The behavior is specifically technology adoption and the beliefs and norms are perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. If both these beliefs are positive then the likelihood of accepting new technology is positive.

Peters, Amato and Hollenbeck (p 130) review these two models in a study to understand acceptance of wireless advertising messages. However, they opted to apply a third model, the venerable Media Uses and Gratifications Theory developed by Katz in the 1950s. Katz hypothesized that people use media to satisfy certain needs or gratifications. The audience actively exposes itself to new media contents based on these needs or gratifications.

Peters, Amato and Hollenbeck (pp 143-5) include a useful questionnaire they prepared to understand the acceptability of wireless advertising messages by consumers with mobile form factors. These questions were used in a participatory inquiry with a selected group of “informants” who represent their audience at large. The questions are categorized along functional use or technology feature. They are general and open-ended so that interviewers can conduct “conversational probing to elicit greater elaboration from the informants.”

Their approach (p 131) is based on Clark Moustakas’ protocol for phenomenology. Hiles (2008, p1) notes the “pivotal role” Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge had in Moustakas form of participatory inquiry. Polanyi (1974, p 18) criticized the na├»ve objectivism of most scientific inquiry as “a delusion and in fact a false ideal.” To Polanyi, the test of knowledge is not complete objectivity, which cannot be obtained, but the presence of a commitment to share the knowledge for review by peers. This commitment tempers the subjectivity opposed by objectivism. It’s refreshing to see Peters, Amato and Hollenbeck use a post-critical approach that incorporates personal knowledge into the process.


Fishbein, Martin (1976). Extending the Extended Model: Some Comments. Advances in Consumer Research.

Hiles, David (May 16, 2008). Putting Heidegger Polanyi Popper in the same frame. Missouri Western University. Retrieved on September 21, 2008 from

Peters, Cara and Christie Amato and Candice Hollenbeck (Winter 2007). An Exploratory Investigation of Consumers’ Perceptions of Wireless Advertising. Journal of Advertising.

Polanyi, M. (1974). Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy. University Of Chicago Press.

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