Contemporary Information Systems Alternative Models to TAM: A Theoretical Perspective

Contemporary Information Systems Alternative Models to TAM: A Theoretical Perspective

Ahmed Y. Mahfouz (Prarie View A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-659-4.ch013
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Abstract

Based on the theory of reasoned action, the technology acceptance model (TAM) has been one of the most widely used theories in management information systems research. This chapter proposes several alternative theories from the literature to TAM. Four theories are showcased that actually reveal a reverse relationship in contrast to the traditional attitude-behavior relationship in TAM. These four theories are theory of cognitive dissonance, social judgment theory, theory of passive learning, and self-perception theory. Other alternatives to TAM and other popular theories are flow theory, cognitive load theory, capacity information processing theory, and information processing theory. These theories are applicable in e-commerce, online consumer behavior, online shopping, immersive gaming, virtual social interactions, and cognitive research. Pragmatic examples are shown for the theories.
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Introduction And Background

The technology acceptance model or TAM (Davis, 1989; Davis et al., 1989) has been one of the most popular theories utilized in IS research. TAM adoption has been in countless areas, beyond the initial intended application of the theory, technology adoption in organizations. Over 700 citations have been made of the Davis’s et al. (1989) article (Bagozzi, 2007). An entire special issue of the Journal of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS) in April 2007 was dedicated to TAM, recounting the vast impact of the theory, as well as its shortcomings, such as its simplicity (Bagozzi, 2007; Benbasat and Barki, 2007; Hirschheim, 2007).

This research proposes several alternative theories from the literature to TAM. Instead of the traditional attitude-behavior relationship in TAM, four theories are included to show how the reverse of the relationship, behavior-attitude, is possible: theory of cognitive dissonance, social judgment theory, theory of passive learning, and self-perception theory. TAM (Davis, 1989; Davis et al., 1989) is based on the theory of reasoned action or TRA (Fishbein, 1967; Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975), which was later extended to the theory of planned behavior or TPB (Ajzen, 1991). Table 1 shows a list of attitude-behavior link theories and their reverse link counterparts (Assael, 1998; Davis, 1989; Davis et al., 1989).

Table 1.
Attitude-behavior vs. behavior-attitude theories
    Attitude-Behavior Theories    Behavior-Attitude Theories
    Theory of Reasoned Action    Cognitive Dissonance Theory
    Theory of Planned Behavior    Social Judgment Theory
    Technology Acceptance Model    Theory of Passive Learning
    Self-Perception Theory

Other alternative theories to TAM are flow theory, cognitive load theory, capacity information processing theory, and information processing theory. These theories are relevant in multiple areas in IS, including ecommerce, online consumer behavior, online shopping, immersive gaming, virtual social interactions, and cognitive research. Examples of implementations of the theories are also discussed.

Hence, the objectives of this paper are to provide the following:

  • Suggest several alternative theories to TAM from the literature for IS research.

  • Propose, specifically, theories that exhibit a reverse relationship to the traditional attitude-behavior link in TAM.

  • Discuss more alternative theories, especially flow theory.

  • Apply these theories with a discussion and examples.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cognitive Load Theory: Defines cognitive load as the amount of working memory needed to solve a problem. Working memory is short-term memory that stores current information being processed. Whenever individuals learn something new, they build schemata, or combinations of elements that combine several elements into a holistic experience. This process of learning can be disrupted if working memory is overloaded failing to digest the new information for proper schema acquisition.

Flow Theory: Views flow as a state in which individuals are so engaged in an activity that they might be oblivious to the world around them and possibly lose track of time and even of self. Individuals feel they are in control of their actions and in a sense of enjoyment and exhilaration, when the levels of task challenges and their own skills are both equally high. It is equated to entering the zone (for athletes) or being lost in the experience (for computer video gamers).

Theory of Passive Learning: Implies that a medium, such as television, is a low-involvement, passive medium of learning and advertising since individuals do not actively participate in the communication process.

Capacity Information Processing Theory: Proposes that proper processing of information is necessary for encoding, storing, and ultimately retrieving this information. However, processing is disrupted either when the recipient allocates fewer resources to the message than necessary, or the message demands more resources than the recipient has to designate to the task.

Technology Acceptance Model (TAM): Is one of the most widely used theories in IS literature. Two beliefs (perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use) predict attitudes, which in turn influence intended use of a technology. This intention then consequently impacts behavior of actual system usage. Perceived usefulness is the degree to which a user thinks a technology would enhance performance or productivity in the workplace. Perceived ease of use is the degree of lack of effort required by the user in adopting a given technology. Perceived ease of use also affects perceived usefulness.

Self-Perception Theory: Indicates that individuals have knowledge of their emotions and internal states and reach a certain attitude based on their own overt behavior and the situations in which these behaviors take place just as an outside observer or another person would. In essence, individuals develop their own attitude by observing themselves act in various circumstances.

Information Processing Theory: Is a seminal and foundational theory in cognitive psychology. According to the theory, short-term memory can handle only seven (or five to nine) pieces of information or chunks at one time. A chunk is a meaningful unit or single element of information.

Theory of Cognitive Dissonance: Suggests a conflict occurs when an individual’s attitudes and behaviors are not congruent. The individual tries to reduce this conflict by changing one’s opinion to conform to the outcome of one’s behavior.

Social Judgment Theory: Proposes that a recipient’s judgment on a persuasive message depends on one’s position on the topic. There are three categories of positions: latitude of acceptance, latitude of rejection, and latitude of noncommitment. An assimilation effect occurs when recipients of a message exaggerate the degree of agreement between their beliefs and the message. However, a contrast effect occurs when the recipients of a message overstate the difference between their beliefs and the message. Small to moderate discrepancies between the recipient’s beliefs and the message’s position will cause changes in attitude, but large discrepancies will not.

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