Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/How intrinsic motivation may factor into TAM

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In Fred Davis' article "Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, and User Acceptance of Information Technology" he acknowledges that more research needs to be conducted around the other variables which factor into user acceptance. One of those areas he listed as inadequately researched within information systems was around intrinsic motivations.

While underlying perceived usefulness is job performance, which in turn leads to use of a system, how does intrinsic motivation relate to system use? Is it an antecedent to perceived usefulness such that it needs to be depicted in the TAM model, or, is it so similar than it that it doesn't really warrant consideration? I'd posit that intrinsic motivations would be an antecedent to perceived usefulness and that a better understanding of its components may help us gain better insight into potential levers that may indirectly influence user acceptance of a system.

Davis' research suggests that a perceptually useful system is one that helps improve job performance; hence, user acceptance will be easier. The system provides a benefit for the individual. But what exactly factors into job performance? What makes an individual want to do their job better? An obvious answer would be a monetary reward. But obviously there are usually other, intrinsic factors at work than just extrinsic ones like money or other rewards. A perceptually useful system alone, without an understanding of the underlying factors at work within job performance may not achieve enough granularity into understanding what makes the individual ultimately use the system.

Motivation is one major aspect that warrants further examination. The article implies that extrinsic factors like monetary rewards lead to better job performance but says nothing about intrinsic ones. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, intrinsic motivation can be divided up into three components: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Each of these yields an internal benefit to the individual which drives them to perform better at their job (and even in life), in general.

How would one apply this thinking in the context of perceived usefulness and user acceptance? Here are some examples: If I am able to achieve a level of self-directedness (autonomy) with the software then I might perceive the system as more useful. If I am able to utilize the advanced and expert features of a system more so than others (mastery) then I might perceive the system as more useful. Thirdly, if the system makes me feel like I'm doing my part for the betterment of the organization (purpose) then perhaps the system is seen as more useful."

Similar to the experiments Davis ran to elicit an understanding of what aspects underly perceived usefulness, we could run an experiment to see what impact intrinsic motivation has on perceived usefulness and user acceptance, in the context of autonomy, mastery and purpose. One example questionnaire statement we might ask might be related to mastery, which is the ability for an individual to achieve a very high level of expertise within a subject matter area: I am able to use the advanced features of the software very easily. If we see a significant correlation between responses to mastery-related questions and perceived usefulness in general, while questions related to job performance and ease of use are held constant, and user acceptance increases, then we can better understand how intrinsic factors like mastery of a system play into changing perceived usefulness and user acceptance.