Personal Values as Motivational Bases of Internet Usage

Personal Values as Motivational Bases of Internet Usage

Eyal Rabin - M.A. Thesis – The Psychology Department -

The Hebrew University at Jerusalem – Advisor: Prof. Shalom Schwartz


The use of the internet is widespread around the world. The Internet not only presents a different and innovative technology, but rather a completely different approach and essence in respect to information retrieval as well as maintaining communication, from what we were previously accustomed. According to the "Usage and Satisfactions" theory, the using of means of communication derives from the individual's need to satisfy social and psychological needs (Blumer & Katz, 1974).

The current study examined the socio-demographic characteristics and the values predicting the overall use of the Internet, and suggested a general measure for examining the amount of usage of the net. In addition, the division of the various Internet uses was empirically examined, yielding five different categories of usage – information seeking and emails, pleasure, purchase, intimate activity, blog. Each of the five categories was analyzed for socio-demographic characteristics and values of users in the specific categories. Results and explanations of the motivational bases of usage, in each category, are presented.

The sample was gathered from a representative sample of the Finnish population, ages 15 to 75 (N=1293), who completed a questionnaire during 2005. The users' socio-demographic characteristics examined (gender, education, familial income and age) were chosen because they were relevant in American and European literature (Cole, 2003; Rabin, Unpublished). In order to identify the motivations characterizing users, respondents completed the SVS questionnaire (Schwartz, 1992).

The innovation of the current study is in the fact that no previous research has examined the relation between users' values and their various types of Internet usages. Moreover, previous studies examining the relations between Internet usage and personality were based on small and unrepresentative samples comprised of university students. The current representative sample enabled discovery of the influence of such factors as well as the trends in Internet usage and the relation between these factors and users' values. Understanding the various uses of the Internet and the motivations for these usages can significantly contribute to improving the use of the Internet by designing websites, applications, and advertisements corresponding to the psychological characteristics of users.

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