Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Consolidating Diffusion of Innovation and TAM

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In 1962, a communication professor named Everett Rogers theorized Diffusion of Innovation to understand the rate which technology will disperse throughout the society. The key characteristics of this theory consist of relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. All these characteristics summarizes the degree to which innovation is perceived in relative to what technology or information already exist in the society. Rogers explained "diffusion" as a process of special type of communication that carries new ideas through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. He also explained that "communication" as a process where members of that social system creates and participates in the existing information and that an "information" is a matter-energy that affects uncertainty. Therefore, the four main elements of Diffusion of Innovation is:

  1. Innovation
  2. Communication Channels
  3. Time
  4. The Social System

The "rate of adoption" for DOI is a relative length of time required that an innovation is adopted where the diffusion curves climbs as individuals adopt until it reaches its asymptote, which is where the diffusion process has finished. The consequence of DOI is that there is a "cultural relativism" which Rogers explained that every culture has a different set of norms, values, beliefs and attitudes that function effectively for their specific circumstance. This relativity creates a knowledge and innovator (change agent) gap in the DOI Theory and made it hard to use. The complexity and compatibility of new technology within the decision-making process of diffusion will be determined by how the end-user perceive its difficulty and its advantage to be used in that specific community/society to be carried through in an unknown amount of time by observability. This amount of time can be measured and predicted by Technology of Acceptance Model.

In 1989, Fred Davis proposed the idea of TAM which stands for Technology Acceptance Model. He developed the idea from Technology Readiness Assessment guidance which is a social psychology model that predicts behaviors based on beliefs and subjective norms. TAM revolutionized the idea of TRA and Rogers' theory of Diffusion, then used it to measure the degree of perceived of ease of use (PEOU) and perceived usefulness (PU) of the technology to be accepted into society. This created an understanding why some people or culture would take longer to adopt an innovation than any other culture, hypothesizing that actual information technology system use is affected by behavioral intentions (BI) that themselves are affected by attitudes toward use. These behavioral intentions are the external challenges. Other challenges would be:

  1. User Beliefs and Attitude
  2. Satisfaction
  3. Adaptation to Change
  4. Role of Culture
  5. Education and Awareness

Consolidation Based on Studies

TAM help researchers to identify unacceptable systems and the appropriate steps to pursue. Based on a study conducted at the National Central University, Department of Business Administration & Department of Foreign Languages in Taiwan, they examined the relationship between diffusion of innovation theory and technology acceptance model using Rogers' five factors: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability and observability as determinants of Davis' key characteristics PU and PEOU that could be useful to development and testing theories of e-learning system acceptance. They found that all five factors had significant effects on the employee's behavioral intentions (BI) of using e-learning systems and that "designers should pay attention to the development of innovative characteristics and content of e-learning systems for potential users." The study shows that TAM can be used as a cost-effective measurement to predict future use of e-learning systems and according to DOI theory, adoption is a "continuously staged process that can be investigated and boosted. Potential users must first learn... and be persuaded to try it out." This suggested that employees has to familiarize themselves as well as the trial opportunities to build an understanding of the system.


Davis, F. D., Bagozzi, R. P., and Warshaw, P. R. "User Acceptance of Computer Technology: A Comparison of Two Theoretical Models," Management Science, 35, 1989, 982-1003.

Lee, Y.-H., Hsieh, Y.-C., & Hsu, C.-N. (2011). Adding Innovation Diffusion Theory to the Technology Acceptance Model: Supporting Employees' Intentions to use E-Learning Systems. Educational Technology & Society, 14 (4), 124–137.

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th Ed.). New York: Free Press.

What is Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (What is Technology Acceptance Model (TAM))

Venkatesh, V. and Bala, H. “TAM 3: Advancing the Technology Acceptance Model with a Focus on Interventions,” Manuscript in-preparation.