Instant messaging continuance: A media choice theory perspective
Front. Bus. Res. China
Instant Messaging Continuance: A Media Choice Theory Perspective
Baoxiang Song 0 1
Wei Wang 0 1
0 Wei Wang School of Management, Jinan University , Guangzhou 510632 , China
1 Baoxiang Song ( ) Economic and Management School, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine , Nanjing 210046 , China
Instant Messaging (IM) has become one of the most popular applications for many Internet users. While prior research has primarily focused on IM initial adoption, continued usage (or continuance) has not drawn much attention. This research integrates media choice theories with motivation theory to explain IM continuance. It tests the proposed model using data collected from a sample of 207 Chinese university students via an online survey. Results indicate that perceived enjoyment, perceived critical mass are key to IM continuance intention. Perceived social presence and perceived critical mass are positively associated with perceived enjoyment. We also find that perceived social presence, perceived media richness and perceived enjoyment have significant effects on perceived usefulness.
instant messaging (IM); continuance intention; perceived media richness; perceived social presence; motivation
People often manage their social and personal relationships through a variety of
communication tools. Historically, relational partners complement their
face-to-face interactions with written forms of communication including post
cards and letters. Telephone has served as another instrument for sustaining
relationships through more immediate communication, particularly when
partners are geographically separated. In recent years, due to the prevalence of
computers and the Internet, computer-mediated communication (CMC) has
become increasingly popular and changed the way people communicate with
(Kettinger and Grover, 1997)
. Many asynchronous and synchronous
communication tools have appeared, such as e-mail, newsgroups, BBS, real-time
chat, blogs, and instant messaging (IM). Among these, IM is the communication
tool whose number of users has witnessed the fastest growth in recent years
Liao, Chiang, Shih, and Chang, 2008)
. This is partly because the number of
Chinese Internet users has exceeded 457 million by 2010. And over 352 million
(about 77.1%) have used IM. IM has surpassed e-mail and become the most
popular online communication means
Existing studies on IM can be roughly divided into two categories in
accordance with their purposes: Personal Instant Messaging is for individuals’
entertainment and communication use, whereas Enterprise Instant Messaging for
business communication use
(Xin, Gurung, and Shim, 2010)
. This paper focuses
on personal Instant Messaging in a voluntary social context.
In prior studies, the media richness theory and social presence theory have
been applied to media choice, in which all media were ranked by the number of
cues available in relation to face-to-face communication. These comparisons may
work well for traditional media. As a new medium, however, IM has new
capabilities (e.g., synchronous computer communication, storage and retrieval of
communication, control over access to and participation in communication, and
hierarchical cues) that may affectively make it more capable of “rich”
communication in users’ perceptions
(Carlson and Davis, 1998)
. Li, Chau, and
Lou argued that IM is a better alternative to face-to-face communication than
(Li, Chau, and Lou, 2005)
. Therefore, the development of IM
requires scholars to consider the existing theoretical perspectives on
communication media such as media richness and social presence theory.
To better facilitate communication, most IM programs are free and easy to use,
making them very affordable and attractive to potential users
(Lu, Zhou, and
. Without initial instrumental cost, the switch cost of IM services is
lower than other online services. The key issue for the IM service providers
becomes how to retain and motivate the users to continue using this specific IM
product because “the long-term viability of an IS and its eventual success depend
on its continued use rather than its first-time use”
(Bhattacherjee, 2001: 352)
The goal of this study is to integrate the media choice theories and motivation
theory for empirically investigating factors that promote IM continuance in the
voluntary social context. We aim to reveal the underlying factors that account for
IM continuance in everyday life. Specifically, the research explains how media
capacity attributes, such as social presence, media richness, critical mass and
users’ extrinsic and intrinsic motivations influence IM continuance.
This paper contributes to the literature in three ways. First, from an
information systems perspective, it extends our current knowledge on
information systems (IS) continuance by examining the effects of media capacity
attributes and motivations in the social context. Second, from a media choice
perspective, it tests whether the theories developed from traditional media (e.g.,
face-to-face, telephone) are suitable for new media like IM. Third, it provides
guidelines for IM service providers to retain IM users in practice.
This paper is organized as follows. It first reviews the literatures and presents
the theoretical background of this study such as social presence theory, media
richness theory, motivation theory and IS continuance model. Based on these, we
develop our research model and propose the research hypotheses. Then we
discuss the methodology used to test our research hypotheses, followed by the
results of our data analyses. The paper concludes with the implications for theory
and practice derived from these results.
McClea, Yen and Huang (2004) defined IM as a type of information technology
to facilitate communication and labeled it as the ability for one to see if a chosen
friend, co-worker, or associate is connected to the Internet
(McClea, Yen and
. There are various types of IM software. The most popular ones in
China include QQ1, Fetion2, MSN Messenger, and Trade Manager.3
Although there are differences among various IM systems, the main features
are similar, including a “pop-up” mechanism that displays incoming messages,
contact or “buddy” lists, a presence feature (a notification that a user is logged
into the application), the ability to create a status message (a message indicating
the whereabouts or availability of the user), the ability to send binary files,
1 An instant messenger application developed by Chinese company Tencent.
2 Fetion is a comprehensive telecommunication service provided by China Mobile
Communication Corporation (CMCC), integrating IVR, GPRS and SMS and covering users’
communication needs in three forms (complete real-time voice service, quasi real-time text
and small amount data telecommunication service and non-real-time telecommunication
service). In this way, a seamless telecommunication service between the Internet and mobile
network is realized.
3 A free instant messenger for Alibaba.com members.
custom backgrounds and logos, audio and video options, a feature set of
emoticons (images used to indicate an emotion or mood), and integration with
. Integrating synchronous and asynchronous
communications, IM builds a sense of social presence and community,
diminishes transactional distance, and reduces the potential for misunderstanding
in the building of social relationships
(Luo, Gurung, and Shim, 2010)
As mentioned above, there are two streams of IM research. The first stream
uses IS theories (e.g., the theory of reasoned action, theory of planned behavior,
and technology acceptance model) to study the adoption of IM. Some studies
focus on the workplace
(Glass and Li, 2010; Isaacs, Walendowski, Whittaker,
Schiano, and Kamm, 2002; To et al., 2008)
, whereas others focus on campus
(Fox, Rosen, and Crawford, 2009; Lu, Zhou, and Wang, 2009; Quan-Haase,
. The second stream relies on media capacity theories (e.g. media richness
theory, social presence theory) to compare IM with other media such as e-mail,
or telephone, etc.
(Hung, Huang, Yen, and Chang, 2007; Ramirez, Dimmick,
Feaster, and Lin, 2008)
. Some studies focus on the purpose of using IM such as
the interpersonal relationship maintenance
(Lee and Sun, 2009; Ramirez and
Broneck, 2009; Valkenburg and Peter, 2009)
(Dahui, Chau, and
Slyke, 2009; Lu et al., 2009)
and information acquisition (Qiao, Lai, Shen, Zhang,
and Chen, 2007), while others examine other computer-mediated communication
tools which are similar to IM, such as social network sites
, mobile instant messaging
(Li, Gu, Shang, and Wang, 2010)
multimedia messaging services (Lee, Cheung, and Chen, 2007).
In general, relatively little attention has been paid to the users’ psychological
and behavioral traits, such as personality traits, motivations and experiences in
the current media choice
(Qiao and Fu, 2009)
. However, media usage depends on
their technical features, users’ communication purposes, user and partner
characteristics, and social contexts
(Dennis, Fuller and Valacich, 2008)
Therefore, research on new media usage like IM should shift from the
technological perspective to the social context. In order to better understand IM
usage behavior, it is necessary to integrate media theories and psychological
theories into the related IM research
(Qiao et al., 2009)
. This study will integrate
media choice theories and motivation theory to explain IM continued usage.
Several interrelated theories have been developed to study communication, such
as media and information richness, social influence, media symbolism, social
presence, critical mass and communication genres. Among them, the social
presence theory and media richness theory are based on the premise that media
have different capacities to convey interpersonal communicative cues. They have
long been used to explain users’ media choice and use
(Lee et al., 2007)
critical mass theory argues that critical mass influence the adoption and diffusion
of communication innovations through network externalities and sustainability of
(Van Siyke, Ilie, Hao, and Stafford, 2007)
. In addition, the
motivation theory proposes that intrinsic and extrinsic motivations determine
individuals’ information technology usage behaviors. Bhattacherjee’s IS
continuance model explains that user’s satisfaction and perceived usefulness are
positively relate to the continuance intention
. Based on the
prior literature, the research foundations for this study involve the social presence
theory, media richness theory, critical mass theory, motivation theory, and the IS
Social Presence Theory
“Social presence” means the extent to which the medium enables the perception
of others’ presence, which is a subjective quality of the communication medium
(Short, Williams, and Christie, 1976)
. Social presence relates to the social
psychology concepts of intimacy (determined by physical distance, eye contact,
smiling, and personal topics of conversation) and immediacy (determined by the
medium’s capacity in transmitting information)
(Short et al., 1976)
capable of providing a greater sense of intimacy and immediacy will be
perceived as having a higher social presence. Based on this theory,
communication media such as face-to-face meetings are considered to have
higher social presence than computer-mediated communication media and
Social presence influences the perception of media, the reception of
information systems, and the choice of communication partners. Communication
is effective if the communication medium has the appropriate social presence
required for the level of interpersonal involvement. Thus, media with high social
presence contributes to building a close interpersonal relationship.
Media Richness Theory
Richness (or leanness) is an intrinsic objective property of information
technologies that serve as communication media. Media or information richness
is defined as the ability of information to change understandings within a certain
(Daft and Lengel, 1986)
. Communication media varies in the
capacity to process rich information. The reasons for richness differences include
a medium’s capacity for immediate feedback, the number of cues and channels
utilized, personalization, and language variety
(Daft et al., 1986; Rice, 1992)
the continuum of richness, face-to-face communication has the highest richness
and a numeric document has the most leanness. Rich media are more suitable for
resolving equivocal situations while lean media is more suitable for reducing
uncertainty (Daft et al., 1986).
Critical Mass Theory
The concept of critical mass indicates that the speed of adopting or using a new
technology suddenly accelerates when a certain minimum amount of usage is
achieved. In the communication media selection, critical mass is particularly
important because an individual’s use of the technology shall be consistent with
that of his/her communication partner’s
. The benefits of using a
communication technology, such as IM, cannot be achieved if the parties
involved in a communication adopt different technologies
(Li et al., 2005)
However, an individual may use a communication technology based on the
perception of the number of users rather than the actual number
(Luo and Luo,
. Therefore, we use the subjective measure of critical mass, which is the
perceived critical mass
. Perceived critical mass in this study
refers to the perceptions of whether IM has attracted a critical mass of users.
The motivation theory describes why and how human behaviors are activated
and directed. In general, behaviors can be extrinsically and intrinsically
(Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman, 1959)
. Extrinsic motivation
refers to performance of an activity, because it is perceived to be instrumental in
achieving valued outcomes that are distinct from the activity itself
Bagozzi, and Warshaw, 1992)
. In contrast, intrinsic motivation focuses more on
the pleasure and satisfaction of being involved in an activity
(Deci and Ryan,
. According to
Davis et al. (1992)
, perceived enjoyment can be described as
a typical example of intrinsic motivation, whereas perceived usefulness is an
example of extrinsic motivation in the contexts of technology adoption or
technology continuance usage
(e.g., Thong, Hong, and Tam, 2006)
IS Continuance Model
IS continuance describes behavioral patterns reflecting continued usage of a
particular IS in the post-adoption phase
(Limayem, Hirt, and Cheung, 2007)
. It is
widely recognized that the continued IS usage has profound implications with
regard to the ultimate success of the system (Bhattacherjee, 2001). More factors
were identified in previous studies on continuance, such as perceived usefulness,
conformation, and satisfaction
; perceived ease of use and
(Kim and Malhotra, 2005)
; perceived enjoyment
and Tam, 2006)
; affective factors such as pleasure and arousal
(Kim, Chan, and
. Perceived usefulness and perceived enjoyment are two important
antecedents of IS continuance intention.
Research Model and Hypotheses
The focus of the present study is on individual’s behavioral intention of
continuance. Based on the social presence theory, media richness theory, critical
mass theory and motivation theory, we develop a research model of IM
continuance intention (Fig. 1). The three media choice factors are supposed to
influence the two motivation factors, which, in turn, are believed to affect the
continuance intention, as shown below.
Perceived usefulness (PU) in the present study is defined as an evaluative
belief on certain communication technology such as IM that builds and maintains
interpersonal relationships in a social context
(Li et al., 2005)
. PU is a very
general perception about the efficiency of the communication technology in
providing instant feedback, conveying multiple cues, and expressing feelings and
emoticons, regardless of the conditions of communication tasks
In China, IM is a powerful communication platform, which integrates text
message, voice mail and video clips together
(Lu et al., 2009)
. Users tend to see
IM as a key catalyst for forming and maintaining their social networks
and Broneck, 2009)
. In IS continuance model, Bhattacherjee found a positive
relationship between PU and IS continuance intention
Previous studies have also validated this effect
(Thong et al., 2006)
. Based on
these, we propose the following hypothesis:
H1 Perceived usefulness has a positive effect on IM continuance intention.
In this study, perceived enjoyment is defined as the perception of the fun,
enjoyment, and pleasure inherent in using a communication technology to keep
and develop interpersonal relationships
(Li et al., 2005)
. In China, IM is also an
entertainment platform, which IM users can play games, listen to music and
(Lu et al., 2009; Qiao et al., 2007)
. Some studies have confirmed the
saliency of perceived enjoyment in explaining IT acceptance and continuance
(Thong et al., 2006). This suggests the following hypothesis:
H2 Perceived enjoyment has a positive effect on IM continuance intention.
Li et al. (2005)
argued that the fun, pleasure, and enjoyment derived from
using IM with friends will positively affect an individual’s perception of the
usefulness of IM in supporting the interaction process, as well as building and
maintaining the relationships among the users
(Li et al., 2005)
. Prior studies also
found that intrinsic motivators such as perceived enjoyment and playfulness
affect extrinsic motivators such as perceived usefulness
Hence, we hypothesize:
H3 Perceived enjoyment has a positive effect on perceived usefulness of
The social presence theory posits that media is different in terms of social
(Short et al., 1976)
. Media which can provide a great sense of intimacy
and immediacy will be perceived as having a higher social presence. As a new
medium, IM can provide communication by video, audio and text at the same
time, which promotes the perception of intimacy. IM’s synchronicity gives it a
feel of live conversation and the presence. The increased degree of presence and
interactivity via IM enhance the degree of connection between relational partners
in a manner that parallels face-to-face interaction
(Ramirez et al., 2009; Stewart,
Setlock, and Fussell, 2007)
. The real-time communication, presence awareness,
and graphic emotional icons make the process of interactivity more enjoyable
and pleasurable. Based on the above discussion, we propose the following:
H4 Perceived social presence has a positive effect on perceived usefulness of
H5 Perceived social presence has a positive effect on perceived enjoyment
of using IM.
According to the media richness theory, media richness refers to a channel’s
relative ability to convey messages that communicate rich information. IM has a
very high capacity to convey multiple cues including variable languages, text,
audio, video, and various feelings and emotions. As a synchronous
communication, IM also exhibits many interactive features that are closer to high
richness media (e.g., face-to-face). The theory claims that richness is most likely
to affect user’s usefulness perception of a medium. Previous studies have found
that a medium that allows sending and receiving rich information with multiple
cues is more likely to be perceived useful
(Lee et al., 2007)
. IM exhibits a great
deal of flexibility, making the communication process more enjoyable. Hence,
we develop the following hypothesis:
H6 Perceived media richness has a positive effect on perceived usefulness of
H7 Perceived media richness has a positive effect on perceived enjoyment of
In the context of IM, perceived critical mass is the point which the adopter
perceives that the site has a significant number of members that he or she can
associate with (due to common interests, friendship, for example). If a current or
potential IM user perceives there are no enough active members which he/she
can associate with, perceived critical mass will not been achieved or sustained
for that user
(Sledgianowski et al., 2009)
. If an individual perceives that many
partners are using IM, the individual may perceive IM to be useful and enjoyable
(Li et al., 2005; Luo et al., 2000; Markus, 1987; Li et al., 2010)
. Thus, we
H8 Perceived critical mass has a positive effect on perceived usefulness of
H9 Perceived critical mass has a positive effect on perceived enjoyment of
Perceived critical mass has a significant impact on the adoption of information
and communication technologies. The direct effect of perceived critical mass and
behavioral intention has been tested and found to be significant in several
(Li et al., 2005; Luo et al., 2000)
. Therefore, according to the
same logic, we expect perceived critical mass to impact IM continuance intention.
Thus, we propose the final hypothesis:
H10 Perceived critical mass of IM has a positive effect on IM continuance
We measured all the variables in the research model using multiple-item scales
adapted from prior studies, making minor wording changes to tailor them to the
target context. We adapted items for continuance intention and perceived
, items for perceived enjoyment from
et al. (1992)
; items for perceived social presence from
Short et al. (1976)
Yoo and Alavi (2001)
; items for perceived media richness
Carlson and Zmud (1999)
; items for perceived critical mass from Lou et al.
Li et al. (2005)
. All the Scales were 5-point. Appendix lists the final
item used in the study.
The questionnaire was translated from English to Chinese and then translated
back from Chinese to English by certified professional translators
Lonner, and Thorndike, 1973)
to ensure the integrity of the constructs. We
conducted a pre-test to examine and validate the survey instrument, ensuring that
it had content validity and reliability at an acceptable level. Before data
collection, we sent the Chinese language version of the questionnaire to 20
students to check the face validity of the adapted measures and made changes
concerning the format and wording of the questions. Some minor modifications
were made based on their feedback as well as from examining the back
translation. The revised questionnaire was then used for the online survey.
Online surveys were used to collect data. As students are the most representative
users of online IMs
, data were collected from undergraduate
students in courses taught by the authors in the business school of a public
university in China. We invited 418 students to participate in the survey during
class. The survey attracted a total of 247 students. Cases where the respondent
has overlooked the reverse order occurring among the continuance intention
items were rejected (40 cases). As a result, 207 valid responses were left. The
effective response rate was 49.5%. Participation was voluntary and anonymous.
To test the proposed hypotheses, we conducted data analysis in accordance with a
(Anderson and Gerbing, 1988)
using LISREL 8.7. The first
step assessed the measurement model to analyze the relationships between the
latent constructs and their associated items. In the second step, we examined the
structural model to analyze the relationships among the various latent variables.
The measurement model was assessed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA).
One item of perceived social presence, one item of perceived media richness and
one item of perceived critical mass were dropped because of low loadings. All
fitness indices (see Table 2) meet the commonly applied thresholds.
As shown in Table 2, all the measures demonstrated composite reliability (CR),
and the average variance extracted (AVE) exceed the required levels (CR above
0.7 and AVE above 0.5)
(Bagozzi and Yi, 1988)
, indicating adequate reliability
and internal consistency.
Content validity and construct validity of the measure were also assessed
following the norm. The items in the questionnaire were adopted from
instruments developed in previous studies, and were slightly modified for our
research context through discussion with knowledgeable scholars. Thus, content
validity should be attained to a large extent. Construct validity were examined
through investigating convergent validity and discriminant validity. All items of
standardized factor loading were higher than 0.6
(Nunnally and Bernstein, 1994)
and, except for one item, had significant path loadings at the 0.001 level. Thus,
convergent validity was achieved.
Discriminant validity infers each item correlate weakly with all the constructs
besides its theoretically related construct. As shown in Table 3, the square root of
Correlation Matrix, Mean, Standard Deviations and the Square Root of AVE
average variance extracted for each construct is higher than the inter-construct
(Fornell and Larcker, 1981)
, suggesting adequate discriminant
Common Method Variance
There may be a potential common method variance (CMV) because the
self-reported data is susceptible due to consistency motif, common rater effects,
and social desirability
(Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, and Podsakoff, 2003)
conducted Harman’s single factor test to see if a single factor would emerge from
exploratory factory analysis. Results showed that the most covariance explained
by one factor was 45.59%, suggesting that common method bias is not a
significant problem. Therefore, the common method variance was not likely to
present a serious problem in this study.
After confirming the psychometric properties of the items measuring the research
variables, we turned to the estimation of the structural model. The proposed
hypotheses were tested using two tailed t-tests. The significance of individual
paths is shown in Fig. 2 and is summarized in Table 4. All fitness indices also
met the commonly applied thresholds (see Fig. 2).
This study focuses on the continuance intention of IM from the perspective of
media choice theory and motivation theory. We drew upon media richness theory,
social presence theory, critical mass theory and motivation theory with the
continuance model. Some interesting research results deserve further discussion.
Overall, our research model demonstrates a good fit with the data collected in
this study. Perceived enjoyment, perceived usefulness and perceived critical mass
collectively explained 55% of the variance in continuance intention. The level of
explanatory power is acceptable.
Consistent with previous studies, this study found that perceived enjoyment,
perceived critical mass were significant in explaining an individual’s continuance
intention to use IM
(Li et al., 2005)
. However, contrary to the previous findings
(Li et al., 2005)
, we did not find the effect of perceived usefulness on the
continuance intention. It indicates that perceived enjoyment and perceived
critical mass are more important determinants to IM continuance intention than
perceived usefulness. This interesting finding may be explained by the different
types of technologies in our study and previous studies. In previous studies, the
utility of IT to improve the performance and productivity should be a dominant
variable influencing behavioral intention. However, in the context of IM, the
attributes which could communicate with friends via richness cues, play games,
or listen music would be more attractive to the users. The perceived enjoyment of
using IM became an important factor in a hedonic context
. In addition, IM is a kind of communication medium, the usage
of IM in group is important according to the network theory. Thus, IM has its
From the perspective of media choice theory, media richness theory, social
presence theory and critical mass theory provide additional insights for
explaining perceived usefulness and enjoyment with regard to IM continuance.
In particular, perceived social presence and perceived critical mass collectively
explained 63% of the variance in perceived enjoyment, with perceived social
presence being the dominant variable in shaping users’ perception of enjoyment.
This suggests that users are likely to be attracted to IM use based on their
perceptions of other partners’ physical presence and the critical mass, which
strengthened their intrinsic motivation toward using the communication
technology. Contrary to our hypothesis, perceived media richness did not
significantly impact perceived enjoyment. One explanation is that media richness
largely depends on whether there are additional program features or options for
the users, and for users such things are far less important than being easy to use
and matching with the task.
Perceived enjoyment, perceived media richness and perceived social presence
explained 50% of the variance in perceived usefulness. IM’s social nature
enables an individual user to maintain interpersonal relationships with others in
social context. We found that the users’ perception of the medium’s capacity and
hedonic utility jointly informed perceived usefulness of IM. Contrary to our
hypothesis, perceived critical mass did not demonstrate direct effect on perceived
usefulness significantly. One possible explanation for the lack of direct effects is
the mismatch between the purpose and performance of using IM
(Li et al., 2005)
The theory of media synchronicity points out that communication effectiveness is
determined by the match between the goals of communication processes and the
media capabilities. As a synchronic communication media, the quicker feedback,
the multiple conversations simultaneously and an entertainment platform are the
advantages for IM. These characteristic may be of great value to the enjoyment
of communication partners but may not be good to the communication
effectiveness. Today people have a set of media for selection, so they may switch
among these media. But we did not collect data of using multiple media in
communication process. Future studies should address the integration of multiple
media in the communication process.
This study provides empirical evidence of the value for integrating the media
choice theory and motivation theory to understand the IM continuance. In
particular, the study integrates three media attributes variables including
perceived media richness, perceived social presence and perceived critical mass,
together with perceived enjoyment and perceived usefulness to explain IM
continued usage. Our study provides support for the motivation perspective,
which holds that perceived enjoyment, as an intrinsic motivation, has a
significant effect on the continuance. However, the study does not provide
support for the extrinsic motivation. This is contrary to the previous study and
hypothesis, and should be studied in the future.
To sum up, this study put forth a useful perspective to study the information
technology continuance in the context of computer-mediated communication. It
highlights the importance of distinguishing different information technology and
the need for considering the nature of information technology. Future studies
should integrate more context factors and motivators.
Findings of the study shed light on several areas that could benefit vendors and
service providers of IM. This study identified that perceived media richness,
perceived social presence and perceived critical mass had important effect on the
continuance usage of IM via intrinsic motivation. In order to attract users’
continued usage, vendors and the service providers should consider the
construction of IM enjoyment platform from the technology aspect, such as
improving the information richness through variable channels. Providing more
customization and personalization may facilitate the interaction process and
enhance the user’s experience of social presence.
Since an individual’s usage can be influenced by the group around him/her,
perceived critical mass becomes an important factor for the adoption and
continuance of IM. Therefore, maintaining the old customers is very important
for attracting new users and the success of IM. This is one of the reasons that QQ
invented by Tencent, a domestic IT company, occupies 86.4% of the IM market,
far exceeding the share of MSN.
Finally, the significant effects of perceived enjoyment on continuance
intention and perceived usefulness suggest the importance of perceived
enjoyment in the continuance usage.
Certain aspects of the results presented here should be interpreted with caution.
First, the data were collected from a student sample. This population may be
more technologically savvy, and are more likely to be exposed to and utilize
CMC tools than the overall population, thus it may not reflect the perceptions of
people in other groups. Further studies should choose random samples of the
population at large. Second, the respondents in the student sample were using
different IM tools, such as QQ, Fetion and MSN. However, this study did not
investigate the different features of these different technologies. Third, we
measure the continuance intention, which is a concept of psychological
perception, so the results may be different in the context of actual usage. Fourth,
our focuses are the three media selection theories, however, there are other media
theories perspective such as social influence theory which influencing the beliefs
of post-adoption, and the continuance.
This paper examined the media natures of IM and the motivation of users
influencing IM continuance. Results of this study indicate that the use of IM as
an enjoyment platform is more important than its utilitarian purpose for IM
continuance in social context. The perceived critical mass of IM users is another
important factor to the IM continued usage. The media capacity attributes such as
social presence and media richness have significant impact on continuance usage
of IM via the intrinsic motivation. Results of the present study complement and
extend previous research on IT continuance usage. They also lend support to
contemporary CMC perspectives that emphasize the role of users over mere
Acknowledgements This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of
China (No. 70971081, 70571036), and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong
Province (No. 9451503101003669, 9451503101003590).
Appendix: Measures and Scales
Perceived Social Presence (PSP) (adapted from
Short et al. (1976)
PSP1: I feel the communication environment of the instant messaging service is
PSP2: I feel the communication environment of the instant messaging service is
PSP3: I feel the communication environment of the instant messaging service is
PSP4: I feel the communication environment of the instant messaging service is
Perceived Media Richness (PMR) (adapted from
Carlson & Zmud (1999)
PMR1: The instant messaging service allows my communication partner and me
to give and receive timely feedback. (deleted)
PMR2: The instant messaging service allows my communication partner and me
to tailor our messages to our own personal requirements.
PMR3: The instant messaging service allows my communication partner and me
to communicate a variety of different cues (such as emotional tone,
attitude) in our messages.
PMR4: The instant messaging service allows my communication partner and me
to use rich and varied language in our messages.
Perceived Usefulness (PU) (adapted from
PU1: Using the instant messaging service improves my communication
PU2: Using the instant messaging service increases my communication
PU3: Using the instant messaging service enhances my communication
PU4: Overall, I find the instant messaging service useful to my communication.
Continued Usage Intention (CI): (adapted from
CI1: I will continue using the instant messaging service rather than discontinue
CI2: I will continue using the instant messaging service rather than other
traditional communication means (e.g., face-to-face).
CI3: I would like to discontinue my use of the instant messaging service (reverse
Perceived Enjoyment (PE): (adapted from
Davis et al. (1992)
PE1: I find using the instant messaging service to be enjoyable.
PE2: The actual process of using the instant messaging service is pleasant.
PE3: I have fun using the instant messaging service.
Perceived critical Mass (PCM): (adapted from Lou et al. (2000) and
Li et al.
PCM1: Many of my buddies use instant messaging service.
PCM2: Of the buddies I communicate with regularly, many use instant
PCM3: Few buddies I communicate with use instant messaging service (reverse
PCM4: A large percentage of my buddies use instant messaging service.
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