Motivations for Using Information for Decision making in Virtual Communities: The Moderating Effects of Usage Behavior

Li-Ting Huang, Cheng-Kiang Farn, Hann-Tarn Jeng

Abstract


Virtual communities are increasingly being viewed as important shopping reference groups and are being used as a new medium for affecting sales. In virtual communities, individuals generally exchange product information with others. This information guides members on the best prod-ucts and where to buy them. We investigated the motivation behind virtual community members’ decision to use information when they inspire more individuals to join shopping reference groups and influence product sales. Most previous research on this subject has emphasized the influ-ence of electronic word of mouth and the posters’ opinions regarding product choice. We further developed this idea by examining the various perspectives that are part of virtual communities’ nature vis-à-vis members’ activities of posting, viewing, and accepting information. We also ex-plored the comparative importance of motivating factors behind members’ intentions to use in-formation for purchase-related decision making in different groups from three perspectives: the social exchange theory, gratifications theory, and the information adoption model. We collected data through an online survey and by examining respondents’ actual posting behaviors. We showed that the importance of economic, relational, and social factors differs among groups. “In-formation browsers” mostly browse through information, rarely post messages, and consider relational and social factors as the main contributors to using information for decision making. “Information consumers” expect effective information, rarely post messages, and consider rela-tional factors as a major determinant. “Information providers,” the primary posters, seldom ac-cept others’ opinions and consider economic and social factors important for the intention of us-ing information for decision making.

Keywords


Decision Making; Usage Behavior; Emotional TrustDecision Making, Usage Behavior, Emotional Trust, a Sense of Belonging, Virtual Communities; a Sense of Belonging; Virtual Communities

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Huang, L. T., Farn, C. K., Jeng, H. T. (2012). " Motivations for Using Information for Decision making in Virtual Communities: The Moderating Effects of Usage Behavior "Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 4(1), pp.1-18.