From Belief-Importance to Intention: The Impact of Framing on Technology Adoption

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The current research integrates and extends the notion of issue framing to the study of innovation-diffusion and explores the influence of frames on the formation of beliefs about a technological innovation. Frames reflecting a new note-taking software's attributes were developed based of the Unified Theory of Technology Adoption and tested within a randomized experiment. Results revealed a significant and unique framing effect. Frames influenced the psychological importance attached by adopters to specific attributes or beliefs about the technology rather than their generalized beliefs about technology. These salient beliefs, in turn, shaped the individual's expectations from technology and influenced their decision to adopt it. Of the frames tested, extrinsic frames that highlighted social influence factors had a stronger effect. This effect was strongest when the frame presents negative extrinsic information about the innovation. In contrast, frames that positively highlighted performance and ease of use of the innovation tended to create higher expectations from the innovation, get compared to the feature-based triggers in the innovation, and get rejected by users. Interestingly, though there was an attenuation of framing effects across all conditions after one week of actual technology use, the framing effect endured and significantly influenced perceptions about the technology's performance. The results suggest the possibility of using small changes in content to significantly alter the meaning attributed to a technology and powerfully influence its rate of adoption over time.

Keywords: Diffusion of Innovations; Issue Framing; Persuasion; Sense Making; Technology Adoption

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2009

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