Another path towards a theoretical model: reflections on what came before

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.

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~ by aleks on April 14, 2009.

5 Responses to “Another path towards a theoretical model: reflections on what came before”

  1. Very interested in what you are doing! Your comment about Jeremy Hunsinger and internalist/externalist divide. Does that relate in any way to augmentalist/immersionist or is it something else entirely?

  2. Liz – I honestly don’t know. This was a proposition submitted by Jeremy in the last post. Can you tell me more about augmentalist/immersionist?


  3. it is an entirely different argument. the argument i put forth dealt with two different positions on explanation and their modes of justification of social and behavioural sciences. internalist account explains things based on inferences toward the state of the human mind, such as intent, will, belief. externalist accounts explain things based on the observable data the person presents, such as actions, relationships, behaviours.

    i think i may have blogged or posted on sled about augmentationalist/immersionist, but that is an old old debate in virtual worlds and people frequently put sl into the wrong camp because they don’t know the history. granted sl is developing toward an immersionist position, but originally it was augmentationalist, and actually their recent business oriented advertisiting is augmentalist again.

  4. The best source on this is As I understand it, augmentalists use virtual worlds as a tool (much the same as referring learners to 2D websites, etc, whereas immersionists look more to constructivism, sense of presence, etc. I wondered (and I don’t know what internalist/externalist is about) if internalist might equate to immersionist and externalist to augmentalist. I need to get my head round the immersionist/augmentalist stuff!

  5. well the debates on augmentationalist/immersionalist started in the 60′s amazingly enough, a google book search gets you started pretty fast on the issues. personally i don’t find that divide of much interest because it collapses pretty quickly . in sl terms, it seems to have been a debate that was dredged up to explain actions of LL in relation to users, but… it doesn’t really work. Your time, i’d argue, is better spent in world doing research on users or at ll doing research on them. I don’t think immersionist/augmentationalist will get you very far researching either users or ll, in the end because it isn’t a frame people use meaningfully except when trying to frame things to external audiences. I’d suggest that in world or in LL most of the people just do what they do without questions of immersion or augmentation popping up, and when researchers bring them up, the best they can do is to re-account for their experiences in those terms, which is very messy… very messy indeed.

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