Apps, Apps, and More Apps: Motivations and User Behaviours

Apps, Apps, and More Apps: Motivations and User Behaviours

Matthew J. Haught (Department of Journalism, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA), Ran Wei (School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA) and Jack V. Karlis (SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo, NY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJMCMC.2016010101
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This paper explores the reasons millions of people use stand-alone, task-oriented software programs designed for use on mobile devices, commonly known as “apps.” This study uses a survey with a probability sample of 576 app users. Consistent with the uses and gratifications approach, respondents were asked about their attitudes, interests, and opinions regarding apps. Theses measures were reduced to five factors. Then, regression analyses considered the factors as well as app use statistics and demographics to predict app use. The motivations of entertainment, convenience, and instrumentality are consistent with previously studied gratifications of the Internet and the mobile phone. However, the constant availability gratification for apps is unique because they provide quick access to information anytime and anywhere. Regression analysis showed these motivations predicted patterns of app use.
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Theoretical Background And Research Questions

The uses and gratifications theoretical framework is based on the assumptions that an individual’s sociological and psychological makeup influences an individual’s media use and effects from mediated communication (Katz, Blumler and Guretvich, 1974; Rosengren, 1974). It further assumes that (1) in using the chosen media, the audience remains active with “goal-directed media behavior”; and (2) individual predispositions, social interaction, and environmental factors shape audience members’ program expectations (Wimmer & Dominick, 2000).

Rubin et al. (2003, p. 129) defines uses and gratifications as “(a) media behavior is purposive, goal-directed and motivated, (b) people select media content to satisfy their needs and desires, (c) social and psychological dispositions mediate that behavior, and (d) media compete with other forms of communication—or functional alternatives—such as interpersonal interaction for selection, attention and use.”

When new technologies are diffused widely in society, scholars apply the uses and gratifications paradigm to understand new media use behaviors and motivations behind the uses (Rubin and Bantz, 1987; Rubin, 1983) and how and the new technologies are being used (Rosengren et al., 1985) In the past U&G research of television, Rubin (1984) found that media use is either ritualized or instrumental. Ritualized use, as described by Rubin, is the habitual use of media to pass time or to divert attention from reality. Instrumental use is identified by active and goal-oriented use of the media. Papacharissi and Mendelson (2007) examined reality television programming through the uses and gratifications paradigm with the motives of reality TV, relaxation, habitual or passing time, companionship, social interaction, and voyeurism.

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