This post was originally published on socialsim

Last week I posted about a theoretical model I had developed based on three theories – the Theory of Planned Behaviour, the Technology Acceptance Model and Diffusion Theory – to help explain the diffusion of voice through an online social network. The comments I received were hugely helpful; many thanks to the internet brain for your feedback!

On empirical reflection, I discovered that Jeremy Hunsinger was right; there is a strong divide between the internalist and the externalist perspecitve. In fact, the outcome of my analysis divided the two chunks almost cleanly. As I describe in the Discussion to the Study 3 chapter:

This research did not set out to empirically test this model, using it instead as a conceptual guideline for potential relationships in the process of influence in the online community. The results demonstrate that there were few interactions that had been proposed that were founded. Instead, each element except exposure were found to be directly related to behaviour; only the relationships between social normative context and the attitude to the innovation, attitude to the innovation and intention to use it, and intention to use it and behaviour were significant. Additionally, there was a strongly significant relationship between attitude to the innovation and the intention to use it.

These findings support the TPB specifically, and suggest that the factors considered important in Diffusion Theory interact in a distinct way with behavioural outcomes from these psychological elements, but they do predict it. A revised model for further, future analysis is presented below:

There are few links with my revised model from last week. In other words, most of the things I hypothesised were related – like network position and threshold or attitude to the innovation and threshold – weren’t. But everything except for Exposure was related to the behaviour.

What wasn’t tested here, but was in other studies was the relationship between the attitude to an innovation and the attitude to the Friend. That’s the missing link, I think. It was a complex series of results, but the top line is that, yes, there is a relationship between them. So perhaps that’s where the internalist-externalist/psychological-network connection lies.

Testing the thing is the next PhD.