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Investigating internet usage

as innovation adoption:
a quantitative study


Prodromos D. Chatzoglou and Eftichia Vraimaki

Production and Management Engineering Department,
Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, Greece

Received 15 January 2009

Revised 17 February 2010
Accepted 5 August 2010

Purpose The purpose is to study Rogers Diffusion of Innovations theory (2003) in a real-life
context, where it is exposed to the full range of complexities of people residing in a specific area and to
briefly describe basically non-work information needs and sources selected to access it.
Design/methodology/approach The relationships between personality and communication
behaviour, socio-economic characteristics and internet adoption, based on Rogers theory are investigated.
Findings Results from 150 households suggest younger people and individuals with more formal
education have increased information needs and are more familiar with computer and internet usage.
A positive association between educational level and innovation adoption, and between the latter and
attitude toward science and change, is indicated.
Research limitations/implications Research is limited to Xanthis Old Town. The quantitative
methodology utilised does not allow for in-depth analysis of information behaviour and internet
adoption patterns. Measures to assess personality and communication behaviour variables developed
need to be further validated. Finally, the research does not examine other variables (e.g. perceived
attributes of innovation) and the distinction between voluntary and mandatory adoption.
Practical implications Results suggest benefits of information technology should be advertised
through earlier adopters.
Originality/value Research shows level of internet exposure and practically explores technology
usage levels in relation to socio-economic, personality and communication behaviour variables. The
sample offers a detailed examination of internet usage and information needs of individuals residing in
a specific area.
Keywords Internet, Innovation, Personality, Information media
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
A large number of studies on information behaviour literature focus on how
professionals seek and use job-related information. Current research has turned its
attention to investigations of information seeking for everyday life purposes, as it can
provide valuable data to guide the shaping of information technology (IT) and
telecommunication policies.
Journal of Information,
Communication & Ethics in Society
Vol. 8 No. 4, 2010
pp. 338-363
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/14779961011093345

This research was part of the Intereg IIIC/Sud Programme, and was funded by the European
Regional Development Fund (75 per cent) and the Greek National Funds (25 per cent). The Greek
coordinator of the project was the region of East Macedonia and Thrace. The authors would also
like to thank the Editor Dr N. Ben Fairweather and the anonymous reviewers, whose comments
and suggestions substantially contributed to the improvement of this paper.

The main focus of this study is on use of new technology, primarily the internet, and
the potential for it becoming the preferred information source. Furthermore, the
research attempts to classify the population in adopter categories, based on Rogers
(2003) Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory. This approach can help identify the
population sector that is receptive to innovation, and ready to accept new technology
infrastructure. An objective is to find potential linkages between socio-economic
characteristics, personality and communication behaviour variables and internet usage
level and adopter categories. The paper also briefly presents assessment of the
information needs of, and the information resources selected by, individuals in Xanthis
Old Town, which are classified on several socio-economic characteristics.
2. Research framework
2.1 Level of new technology usage
The focus of the study is to investigate the digital literacy of the respondents and more
specifically the accessibility and level of computer and internet usage. Information and
communication technologies (ICT) can have a significant effect on various aspects of
the life of individuals, ranging from access to accurate and timely information to
employment opportunities, or even social inclusion (Tambulasi, 2009). This is because,
nowadays, especially, the internet has been transformed from a [. . .] medium of the
elites to one in common use (Haythornthwaite and Wellman, 2002, p. 3), having a
significant impact in all kinds of daily activity, from communicating, to working,
shopping and services provision (Demunter, 2006). Studying computer and internet
penetration posses an additional interest since Greece has one of the lowest levels of
household internet access (31 per cent) among the 27 European Union member states
(EU27 Eurostat, 2008). Thus, examining such issues in specific areas would help
design-specific interventions so as the country keeps up with current trends in IT.
The indisputable value of ICTs for everyday life and organisational settings alike
has produced a body of literature investigating their acceptance and use. Aiming to
gain an understanding of, and manage the process of, new technology adoption,
several theoretical models have been proposed and utilised, including the theories of
reasoned action (Fishbein and Azjen, 1975) and theories of planned behaviour (Ajzen,
1991), the technology acceptance model (Davis, 1986, 1989), social cognitive theory
(Bandura, 1997), as well as the conceptual framework of DOI (Rogers, 2003) (Agarwal
and Prasad, 1999). Researchers also applied models integrating factors from diverse
frameworks (Dez and McIntosh, 2009; Legris et al., 2003). As regards to DOI, Haider
and Kreps (2004) argue that it offers significant insights to understanding and
facilitating behavioural change, as it can assist the improvement and customisation of
innovations to fit cultural needs of specific groups.
Agarwal (2000) summarises the factors proposed to influence acceptance behaviour,
namely individual differences, social influences, beliefs and attitudes, situational
influences and managerial interventions. Moreover, perceived attributes or
characteristics of innovation per se have been argued to influence adoption, including
relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability and observability (Moore and
Benbasat, 1991; Fichman, 2000; Rogers, 2003). Of the aforementioned factors, this study
focuses on individual differences and characteristics, whose effect has been widely
recognised by relevant literature (Agarwal and Prasad, 1999; Landers and Lounsbury,
2006). Significant differences, however, can be depicted among the theories as to where

internet usage



each of them [. . .] situates this construct [i.e. individual differences] within the overall
nomological network of relationships, that is individual differences either influence
usage directly or by shaping beliefs and attitudes (Agarwal, 2000, p. 95). Following the
propositions of DOI, this research examines the possible direct relationship between
individual differences and internet adoption and usage. Rogers (2003) propositions will
be briefly described in the following section.

2.2 Individual differences and adopter categories classification
This research goes beyond mapping the information needs and IT penetration of
specific groups. An attempt is being made to classify the targeted population into
adopter categories, based on the rate of adoption of an innovation by an individual, as
proposed by Rogers (2003). This classification can provide the opportunity to target
first specific groups of people more receptive to innovation. These groups can function
as agents for innovation diffusion in their community, helping more sceptical
individuals come in contact with new technology.
Rogers (2003) explains that not all individuals within a social system adopt
innovation at the same time. Rather, the adoption takes place in an over-time sequence
that allows for classifying individuals in adopter categories, based on the time
individuals first begin to use a new idea, or more accurately, they are classified based on
their innovativeness. Innovativeness, according to Rogers (2003, p. 22), is the [. . .]
degree to which an individual (or other unit of adoption) is relatively earlier in adopting
new ideas than other members of the system, whereas, innovation is defined as an idea,
practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption
(p. 3). According to the author, it matters little whether the idea is actually (objectively)
new, in terms of the lapse time from its discovery. This means that if an idea or object is
perceived as new by an individual, then it is an innovation. In the context of the specific
research, the use of IT (particularly the internet) is regarded as innovation.
Based on the criterion of innovativeness, Rogers (2003) proposes six adopter
categories with distinctive and mutually exclusive characteristics:
(1) innovators;
(2) early adopters;
(3) late adopters;
(4) early majority;
(5) late majority; and
(6) laggards.
Innovativeness is relative to several variables classified in three categories:
(1) socio-economic status;
(2) personality values; and
(3) communication behaviour.
These categories were derived from a large number of relevant researches.
Similar categorisations have been proposed by other researchers, as for example by
Zmud (1979), who classified individual differences in three classes: cognitive style,
personality and demographic/situational variables.

Fichman (1992) notes that the generalisations proposed by DOI were confirmed in the
context of individual adoption, including that earlier and later adopters have different
personal characteristics (Brancheau and Wetherbe, 1990; Leonard-Barton and
Deschamps, 1988). Some of these generalisations are also used in this study to classify
the sample into adopter categories. That is, apart from information about respondents
familiarity with and internet usage, an attempt is made to assess some of the personality
and behaviour characteristics of earlier adopters (Figure 1). Personality variables linked to
innovativeness have not yet received much research attention (Rogers, 2003), partially
because they are difficult to measure, especially compared to socio-economic
characteristics. However, the association between personality variables and innovation
adoption is investigated (to the extent this is possible). Rogerss propositions regarding
individual differences utilised in this research are presented below.
2.2.1 Socio-economic characteristics. Earlier adopters are no different in age from
later adopters, but have more formal education, are more likely to be literate, have a
higher degree of upward social mobility and social status. Income, level of living,
occupational prestige and self-perceived identification with a social class are some of
the variables indicative of social status.
2.2.2 Personality variables. Earlier adopters may be less dogmatic than late
adopters. Dogmatism is the degree to which an individual has relative closed belief
system [. . .] A highly dogmatic person would not welcome new ideas [. . .] and would
instead prefer to hew in the past (Rogers, p. 273). Moreover, earlier adopters have
greater ability to deal with abstractions, i.e. they should be able to adopt an innovation
on the basis of rather abstract stimuli, e.g. from mass media. They are also proposed to
be able to deal with uncertainty and risk more effectively and have a greater degree of
risk tolerance.
DOI suggests that earlier adopters have a more favourable attitude toward change
and science and, since innovations are usually the product of scientific research, they
have a more favourable attitude toward science. Additionally, earlier adopters are less
fatalistic. Fatalism is the degree to which an individual perceives a lack of ability to
control his or her future (Rogers, 2003, p. 273). Individuals with a high degree of

internet usage





Rate of adoption

Figure 1.
Variables related to rate
of adoption



fatalism usually believe that their future is largely determined by fate; they have low
self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997). Fatalism and dogmatism are negatively related to
innovativeness, whereas the effect of all the other variables presented above is positive.
Finally, earlier adopters have higher aspirations for formal education, occupation,
higher status, etc.
2.2.3 Communication behaviour. Individuals in different adopter categories have
diverse communication behaviours: earlier adopters have more social participation and
more actively seek information about innovations (Rogers, 2003).
2.3 Information needs and choice of information sources
Finally, this study aims to draw a picture of the information needs of Xanthis Old
Town residents through an assessment of information types they are mostly interested
in (e.g. health, work and leisure). Participants information source of choice is also
investigated. Information sources can be classified as people and non-people
(Agosto and Hughes-Hassell, 2005); the latter can be subdivided into print and
electronic sources (Julien and Michelis, 2004). Factors likely to determine individuals
information source selection, namely comprehensiveness, accuracy, trustworthiness,
availability and accessibility are investigated. Finally, barriers to information access
(e.g. lack of time, information overload) are examined; barriers are also classified based
on relative importance. Possible differences among different socio-economic categories
regarding information needs and choosing information resources are examined.
3. Research methodology
3.1 Sampling and data collection
The target population is the residents in the urban community of Xanthis Old Town,
where, today, about 4,000 people reside (about 7 per cent of the Xanthis population).
Of the 1,200 two-storied residences, occupied by one family each, in the area,
450 were randomly selected, using the cluster sampling approach. A list of all streets
was used to randomly select specific streets. Visits took place from 17:00 to 20:00 to
increase the number of responses. While this approach helped to increase the number
of employed respondents and students, other respondent categories may have been
underrepresented in the sample; for example parents of young children who are always
dealing with young children between these hours, and thus unavailable. One
questionnaire from each household was obtained; the level on analysis would more
appropriately be the individual, but some information regarding the household
(e.g. internet access from home) was obtained, by following this approach.
Questionnaires were administered using the in-person-drop-off method. Most
respondents preferred to answer the questions on the spot; for the others a pick-up date
was arranged. The questionnaire was ten pages long, including a cover letter,
explaining the purpose of the study. It was constructed using a structured format,
divided into the following parts:
socio-economic characteristics;
types and sources of information;
computer usage;
internet usage; and
personal and communication behaviour variables.

Classifications to assess socio-economic characteristics and respondents e-skills were

from the National Statistical Service of Greece (NSSG) (2005) and Eurostat (2005)
schemes. Questions to examine types and sources of information, source selection
criteria and barriers were adopted from Momodu (2002), Eurostat (2005) and Gray et al.
Personality and communication behaviour variables were developed for this study,
while risk tolerance items were from Grable and Lytton (1999). All variables measuring
personality, except risk and communication behaviour, are measured using a five-point
likert scale.
A total of 150 usable questionnaires were collected for a response rate of 33.3 per cent.
Table I presents the samples demographic characteristics. Most respondents were
female (60 per cent). Five age groups were created with the largest proportion
(32.0 per cent) belonging to the 40-63 years group. A total of 37.3 per cent of respondents
reported having graduated lyceum, which is three years over the mandatory
educational years, while 39.3 per cent have completed tertiary education.
Most respondents (61.4 per cent) were not in the active labour force, of which
32.0 per cent were students and the remainder being equally divided between
unemployed, retired or being in compulsory military service. A total of 37.9 per cent of
the employed respondents reported working in the other services sector (e.g. doctors,
lawyers, etc.), while 24.1 per cent reported working in the manufacturing and
industrial sector.




0-18 years
19-25 years
26-39 years
40-63 years
64-91 years
Primary/high school
Employee (public sector)
Employee (private sector)
Other, not in labour force
Agriculture, cattle, fishery
Construction, public works
Trading, dining, hotels
Other services

Educational level

Employment status

Employment sector





internet usage


Table I.
Respondents profile



3.2 Content validity

Content validity was examined through questionnaire pre-testing (Zikmund, 2003). Some
wording modifications were made to ensure that the original text was clearly interpreted.
4. Results
4.1 Computer usage
Computer usage was examined in terms of experience and frequency of use. A total of
56.4 per cent of the respondents have been using a computer for three to five years,
while 21.8 per cent have been using a computer for less time. Female respondents are
less experienced computer users (Table I).
Computer experience results are more or less in accordance with expectations. The
most experienced users belong to the age groups over 26 years old, while none of the
respondents over 64 years has ever used a computer. The latter finding coincides with
statistics from EU27, that three out of four individuals over 65 have no computer skills
at all (Demunter, 2006). As for Greece, the NSSG (2008) states that the percentage of
individuals aged 16-74 who have never used a computer has dropped to 48 per cent in
2008 from 75 per cent in 2002. All respondents between 26 and 39 have a minimum
three-year experience with computer usage.
The least experienced users are those whose studies were terminated after they
graduated from the primary or secondary school. The 2006 Eurostat research across
the 27 EU member countries indicates the importance of education level as a significant
factor affecting the level of e-skills (Demunter, 2006).
To categorise respondents into frequent and casual computer users, frequency
of computer usage (within the last three months) was examined. Most respondents
(59.6 per cent) use a computer every day or almost every day, 26.9 per cent at least once
a month. Male respondents are on the whole more frequent users than female. A total of
72.2 per cent of males report using a computer every day or almost every day, while the
remainder, 27.3 per cent uses a computer at least once a week. On the other hand,
23.3 per cent of female respondents report using a computer less than once a week
(Table I).
4.2 Internet access and usage
4.2.1 Internet access locations. To assess the level of internet usage by Xanthis Old
Town residents, respondents were asked to indicate whether there is internet access
from home. Most of the population (53.3 per cent) accesses the internet from home,
above average for Greece and closer to the mean (60 per cent) across EU27 (Eurostat,
2008). No gender differences regarding internet access at home are found. As for age,
half of the respondents in the age groups 2 (19-25), 3 (26-39) and 4 (40-63) reported
having internet access from home. A total of 70.6 per cent of individuals below 18 have
internet access at home, suggesting the importance of the presence of children in the
household on the take-up of ICTs (Demunter, 2005). Conversely, none of the individuals
aged from 64 to 93 has internet access at home. Results can be explained taking
into consideration that younger people are more experienced with using computers
and the internet and therefore they would also want to have access from home.
Examining internet access from home in relation to educational level it is found that as
formal years of education increase the percentage of internet access at home also

As for the reasons why they do not have an internet connection at home, equipment
and access cost were the two most popular reasons (33.3 per cent each). A total of
30 per cent of the respondents claim they do not need an internet access at home, while
26.7 per cent said they have access elsewhere. A total of 16.7 per cent said they do not
want to access the internet at home. Finally, none of the respondents seemed to be
concerned with privacy or security issues. Overall statistics for Greece (Smihily, 2007)
indicate that not needing internet (45 per cent) and lack of skills (30 per cent) are the two
most important reasons for not having internet access at home, while equipment and
access cost account only for the 14 and 9 per cent of the responses, respectively. Results
from Xanthis Old Town sample are similar to data obtained from 14 EU member
countries (Greece not included). These discrepancies between region and country may
partially be attributed to misinformation regarding true access and equipment costs, or
to social desirability bias, meaning that individuals did not wish to appear uninterested
in new technology or lacking necessary skills. Further, it is found that more females
than males choose not to have internet access at home; Not needing an internet access
at home is a very popular reason among female respondents (35.3 per cent). Male
respondents seem to be more concerned about equipment (33.3 per cent) and access
costs (50 per cent).
Access and equipment costs are the main reasons for younger people, not needing
it and equipment cost for middle aged people, while older people claim that lack of
skills puts them off having an internet connection at home. This may be partially
because they cannot use it themselves or feel that they cannot properly supervise their
children when they are using it.
Examining access locations, it is found that 66 per cent of the respondents have
accessed the internet from home and 32 per cent of them also from work. It should be
noted that these data are drawn from individuals having accessed the internet within
the last three months, applying to 44 per cent of the total sample. A total of 30 per cent
of the respondents use the internet elsewhere, with internet cafes being the most
popular with people up to 25 years old. Results are according to expectations, as the
usual clientele of such services includes mainly younger people. No great differences
between genders were found.
4.2.2 Internet frequency of use and experience. An important finding is that most
respondents (62.7 per cent) are recent users, while 30.7 per cent do not use internet at all.
Based on these results, the population can be classified into two basic categories: recent
users and non-users. People are also classified as frequent, casual and non-users
according to their gender. Male respondents are either recent (70 per cent) or non-users
(30 per cent), while only female respondents (11.1 per cent) report casual usage.
Almost all respondents in the age group 19-25 are frequent users (92.9 per cent). The
number of internet non-users increases with age (28.6 per cent for age group 29-39,
and 50 per cent for age group 40-63), to the point where individuals aged from 64 to
91 have never used it.
Regarding educational level, as the number of formal years of education increase the
number of frequent users increases. Public sector employees seem to be familiar with
internet usage, since all of them are frequent users, while none of the retired respondents
has ever used the internet. A total of 57.7 per cent of self-employed participants are
non-users, while only 9.1 per cent of the unemployed are casual internet users and the
others are equally divided between users and non-users (45.5 per cent, respectively).

internet usage




Interestingly, most internet users access it on a regular basis (55.2 per cent daily and
30.6 per cent at least once a week), with men being more regular users (71.4 per cent
male, 42.9 per cent female). Note that this is one of the few times in this research that
great gender differences are depicted. Nevertheless, most respondents in both
categories are everyday users. Age and educational level are two significant
determinants of internet usage, as the number of everyday internet users increases
with age (up to 39) and educational level.
Respondents internet experience was also examined. The conclusions drawn from
the analysis are that the sample consisted of rather experienced people, since 93 per cent
of the respondents have been using the internet between one to five years. Further,
male research participants are more experienced internet users than females. Results
regarding age indicate that once people are old enough to have been using the internet
for an extended period of time, there is remarkably little difference in length of usage
for all under 62. For those below 25 internet usage experience is in accordance with
their age (Table I).
4.2.3 Internet-related activities. Finally, respondents were asked to indicate the
activities they used internet in the last three months (strictly for private purposes).
Activities were classified into six categories:
(1) communication;
(2) information search and online services;
(3) ordering/selling goods or services/banking;
(4) interacting with public authorities;
(5) training and education; and
(6) health-related activities (Figure 2).
Cumulative results show that the first two activity categories are the most popular,
while ordering/selling goods or services and banking is the second least popular.
This can possibly be attributed to the fact that this kind of activity requires
more familiarization with the specific media; there are also safety issues involved.


Other, e.g. chat sites etc

Information about goods/services

Playing /downloading games, images, music
Downloading software
Travel & accommodation
Reading newspapers/magazines
Radio - TV
Looking for a job/sending application
Internet banking
Ordering selling
Purchasing goods or services
Goods/services - banking
Selling goods or services
Interacting with
public authorities


Downloading forms
Obtain information
Sending forms

Formalised educational activities

Post educational courses
Other educational activities
Health-related activities Seeking health-related information


& education

Figure 2.
Internet-related activities

% of cases

Results also indicate that not many people use the internet to interact with public
authorities, probably because this category of services is not widely available in
Greece. Moreover, people seem to be inadequately informed about which public sector
services can be found online. Finally, only 18.2 per cent of the respondents use the
internet for health-related activities, and that is only for seeking information. This can
be justified considering that health is a very sensitive issue. These results are, to a
large extent, in accordance with statistics reported by Eurostat (2008) for Greece.
Using the internet for communication is more popular with male respondents. In
contrast, female respondents use the internet for information about travelling and
accommodation, whereas playing and downloading games, images, music or software
and reading newspapers online are more popular activities among men. However, more
women use the internet to look for a job, and they seem to be more at ease with using
internet banking services and either purchasing or selling goods over the internet.
Post-educational and other educational activities are performed using the internet only
by female respondents, while seeking health-related information is also more popular
with women.
Using the internet for communication purposes is more popular within people who
are below 25. Similar results are obtained for most activities in the information search
and online services category, while reading newspapers online and looking for a job
are frequent activities among people from 26 to 39. Most users (66.7 per cent) of internet
banking services are in the 26-39 age group; they also use the internet to sell goods and
interact with public authorities more than the other age groups. Finally, the looking
for health-related information online activity is only performed by respondents
between 26 and 39. Most respondents from 40 to 65 use the internet for communication
purposes (via e-mail 91.7 per cent), and to look for information about goods or services.
Overall, results indicate that respondents from 26 to 39 years old use the internet for a
wider variety of activities than respondents from the other age groups.
4.3 Personality and communication behaviour variables
Respondents were asked to answer a number of questions that would help the
examination of a number of personality and communication behaviour characteristics,
based on DOI (Figure 1). These variables were incorporated into the research design
with the hope that a clearer picture of adopter categories could be provided. As Rogers
(2003) explains, past studies have shown important differences between earlier and
later adopters of innovations in:
socio-economic status;
personality variables; and
communication behaviour.
The distinctive characteristics of each adopter category can assist audience
segmentation, i.e. the decision about which communication channels and/or messages
should be used for each sub-audience.
As explained above, socio-economic characteristics of respondents are examined in
relation to their mass media communication channels and new technology exposure.
However, analysis of personality and communication behaviour variables requires
a different approach, based on the statistical analyses suitable for behavioural
science-related issues.

internet usage




Construct validity was tested using factor analysis with varimax rotation, where only
one component was extracted by principal component analysis in all nine cases.
Discriminant validity was tested by examining the factor loading values, total variance
explained (TVE) and Cronbachs alpha (a) score of each latent construct. Suggested cut-off
values for the above tests ideally are: factor loadings .0.5, a . 0.6, TVE . 50 per cent,
Kaiser-Meyer-Oklin (KMO) .0.6 and significance of Bartletts test of sphericity ,0.05
(Table II). Anti-image covariances and correlation scores all exceeded the 0.5 threshold.
Two out of 27 items were dropped from the fatalism and active seeking regarding
innovation (FAT2 and ASI1, respectively), due to the low level of internal consistency
(factor loading). Although ability to deal with abstractions, risk and active seeking
regarding innovation have low Cronbachs a scores (Table II) they are kept in the
4.3.1 Internet usage as innovation adoption. Rogers explains that innovation
is a subjective matter; if an idea or object is perceived as new by an individual,
then it is an innovation. For this study, internet usage was assumed as innovative
behaviour, measured using three variables:

Latent construct
Personality variables

Table II.
Results of measurement
assessment of personality
and communication
behaviour variables


Ability to deal with
Attitude toward
Attitude toward
Communication behaviour variables
Active seeking
regarding innovation
Social participation



Bartletts test
of sphericity




84.66 *




11.89 *




17.68 *




125.97 *




62.48 *




325.00 *




211.41 *




25.43 *




147.32 *

Factor Cronbachs

Notes: Significant at: *p , 0.05; areverse scored for analysis purposes

(1) experience with internet usage (in years);

(2) internet users classification, measured by most recent internet usage; and
(3) average internet usage (within the last three months).
4.3.2 Internet usage and socio-economic characteristics. Correlation analysis (Table III)
for gender (related to both the experience with and average internet usage) has shown
that males are more experienced and more regular users. Further, recent internet usage
(users classification) is negatively related to the age, meaning that frequency of
internet usage decreases with age. Note that DOI does not propose any gender or age
differences between adopter categories, and that only the results regarding most recent
usage are statistically significant.
A strong positive statistically significant relation between educational level and
experience with usage, as well as recent usage is found. In other words, as the years of
formal education increase experience with and most recent internet usage increase as well,
as Rogers (2003) has suggested. Results regarding employment status indicate a negative
relationship with experience, meaning that participants of the first employment status
categories are more experienced users. Finally, regarding employment sector, no
significant relationship between the former and internet usage was found.
4.3.3 Internet usage and personality variables. First, analysis indicates a low
positive relationship between innovation adoption and dogmatism, which
contradicts propositions (Table IV). This can be partially attributed to national culture
characteristics. Results regarding ability to deal with abstractions partially confirm
theory suggestions, as analysis indicates a low positive relationship between the former
and internet users classification. Results for aspiration do not confirm Rogers (2003)
proposition regarding the relationship between innovation adoption and the specific
personality characteristic, since no significant relationship was found.
Risk tolerance is positively correlated with average internet usage, meaning that
risk prone persons are more likely to adopt an innovation (internet usage). Nevertheless,
experience with internet usage and risk tolerance do not have a significant relationship.
Results regarding fatalism partially confirm theory suggestions, as the proposed
negative association between the variables is only confirmed in the second relationship,
with a relatively low negative correlation.
The proposed positive relationship between attitude toward science and innovation
adoption is confirmed for all three innovation variables, ranging from low to moderately

Spearmans r
Internet usage as

with internet
Internet users
internet usage


20.26 *


0.56 * *

20.50 * *



2 0.62 * *

0.49 * *





Note: Significance at: *p , 0.05 and * *p , 0.01


Educational Employment Employment



20.34 * * 2 0.10

internet usage


Table III.
characteristics and
internet usage:
correlation table

Table IV.
Personality variables and
internet usage:
correlation table

Note: Significance at: *p , 0.05 and * *p , 0.01

Experience with
internet usage
Internet users
Average internet
2 0.07

0.19 *

0.44 * *


Ability to deal with


0.23 *


2 0.02

0.36 * *


0.34 * *



20.28 * *


0.29 * *

0.51 * *

0.33 * *


0.38 * *


tolerance Aspiration Fatalism toward science toward change


Internet usage as
innovation adoption

Spearmans r


significant correlation. Finally, the positive relationship between attitude toward change
and innovation adoption suggested by theory is only partially confirmed.
4.3.4 Internet usage and communication behaviour. Results indicate a positive
relationship between active seeking of information and internet experience (Table V).
Cumulative results for active seeking of information produce a mixed picture, since the
other two relationships are negative. Social participation, on the other hand, is
negatively associated with all three variables of internet usage, contradicting Rogers
(2003) propositions.

internet usage


4.4 Information needs and choice of information sources

4.4.1 Information needs. To investigate the information needs of the town residents,
respondents were asked to indicate the types of information they are usually interested
in from a given list (Figure 3).
Respondents are mainly interested in information about current news and events
(89 per cent), the weather (43.8 per cent), travel (38.4 per cent) and politics (37 per cent).
Examination of the differences in the information needs of the people with different
gender, age, educational level, employment status and employment sector has
produced mixed results (Table II). While information needs of male and female

Spearmans r
Internet usage as
innovation adoption

Experience with
internet usage
Internet users
Average internet

Active information seeking

regarding innovation
0.32 * *

2 0.04

2 0.49 * *

2 0.36 * *

2 0.43 * *

2 0.19

Note: Significant at: * *p , 0.01

Table V.
behaviour and internet
usage: correlation table

% of cases
Current events/news
Consumer information
Education/personal improvement
Local events/community development
Religion and spirituality
General health
Personal finance
Nutrition and exercise
Job/volunteer information


Figure 3.
Types of information



participants do not vary considerably for most of the information categories, greater
differences are depicted for education, job and religion-related information, in which
females are more interested.
Regarding age, interest in information about hobbies, religion and politics increases
as age increases. However, personal finance and consumer information is more popular
with age group 2 (19-25 years old). Interest in information about the weather, hobbies,
transportation, general health, local events and education/personal improvement
increases with years of formal education; in contrast, interest in religious information
decreases as years of formal education increase. No great differences have been found
according to employment status or sector.
Television and radio (65.3 per cent) were the preferred information source of the
population under study, followed by internet (20 per cent) (Figure 4). Considering that
the selection of an information source largely depends on the type of information one
wishes to obtain, results indicating that television and radio are respondents first choice
is quite reasonable. Overall, respondents favour electronic sources to print ones; people
sources are not very popular and cumulatively only account for 9.3 per cent of responses.
However, no definite conclusion regarding the importance of peoples sources, as
suggested by literature ( Julien and Michelis, 2000), can be drawn from these result, since
no comparative examination of the relationship between type and information source
was performed. Results regarding the criteria for selecting an information source, as well
as perceived barriers to information access are presented in Appendix (Table AIII).
5. Summary and conclusions
The purpose of the study was to assess the level of new technology exposure of
Xanthis Old Town residents, in terms of computer and internet usage, as well as to
briefly describe their information needs and sources they select to access it. Cumulative
research results indicate that individuals are fairly familiar with new technology, with
male respondents being more experienced and more frequent computer and internet
users. Gender differences are in accordance with statistics reported for all EU member
states, with Greece having among the lowest percentage of regular computer and
internet users in both sexes (Seybert, 2007). Although a large proportion of the relevant
literature is dedicated to identifying gender differences in ICT adoption, current results
seem to suggest that variations in usage patterns could be attributed to many other
factors. While such differences can be directly attributed to gender characteristics, a
failure to acknowledge other factors, such as individuals beliefs and expectations,
offers an at best superficial analysis of the findings (Habib and Cornford, 2002).

electronic sources
print sources

Figure 4.
Preferred information




News paper/magazine/book



Family member/relative


Librarian/public office employee


For example, reduced internet access by females could be largely affected by [. . .] the
continuing gender-hierarchical division of labour (Winker, 2005, p. 200). Eurostat
reports that within the EU27, a significant larger number of men are employed in
computing jobs (Seybert, 2007). Winker (2005) proposed that gender inequalities in
internet use should also be approached by gathering qualitative data on anatomy and
variety of use and media competence, which are influenced by a number of more
complex factors.
Younger individuals and people with more formal education seem to be more
familiar with using new technology, as theory suggests (Rogers, 2003). Other similar
researches also indicate that internet engagement is lower for older individuals,
compared younger or middle-aged people (Welsh Consumer Council, 2005; Office for
National Statistics (ONS), 2008). As Hill et al. (2008) indicate, age, along with other
moderators, such as socio-economic status, will continue to be significant factors
among the digitally excluded individuals. No conclusive results can be drawn for
employment status and sector variables. However, it is clear that respondents in
agriculture (for employment sector), retired (for employment status) and 64-91 years
old (for age) categories have little or no experience with the use of IT.
Analyses regarding innovation adoption rate in relation to socio-economic
characteristics, personality variables and communication behaviour produced mix
results (see Table VI for a summary of the results). More specifically, some results
seem to confirm Rogers (2003) propositions, for example that there is a positive
association between educational level and innovation adoption, or between attitude
toward science and change and innovative behaviour. On the other hand, other results
seem to contradict theory suggestions or produce inconclusive results (i.e. statistically
insignificant correlations). As with most researches following a quantitative
methodology, the variance in the results may partially be attributed to sample size
(random sampling error) or response bias, quite common in behavioural research,
which occurs when respondents tend to answer in a certain direction, misinterpreting

Nature of
Variables proposed by DOI
Educational level
Ability to deal with
Risk tolerance
Attitude toward science
Attitude toward change
Active information seeking
regarding innovation
Social participation
Note: aBased on more recent usage

internet usage


Innovation adoption measured as

Experience with
Internet users
internet usage
Confirmation of proposed associations







Table VI.
Summary of results on
DOI propositions testing



the truth either consciously or unconsciously (Zikmund, 2003). There are also other
issues related to the appropriateness of the measures utilised to assess the constructs
examined in this study. Although reliability was established with appropriate tests
(Table II) measures need to be further validated. Moreover, the production of mixed or
inconclusive results may also be explained by the fact that the model used does not
make a distinction between voluntary and mandatory adoption, which is common in
the social psychology theory, as it is believed that different social-psychological
mechanisms that influence behaviour are triggered in the two different settings. In this
respect, there may be a difference between engaging in internet usage, resulting from
personal interest and using it for business or educational purposes. Finally, results
may be evaluated under the light of national and/or area-specific culture, as well as
several macro- and micro-economic indicators, such as population density, that could
have an effect on innovation adoption rates on specific regions within a country or the
EU. Further research should acknowledge the influence of such factors.
Although all aforementioned factors may have had an effect on the outcome of this
research, failure to reproduce theorys propositions could be an indication that the
generalisations regarding the effect of individual differences on innovation diffusion,
are too broad to capture a large variance in the adoption patterns of the individuals, at
least in quantitative studies. Broad refers both to definition and to which of the
generalisations constitute more persistent characteristics of the adopters. Thus, [. . .]
DOI [Diffusion of Innovation] makes certain simplifying assumptions about the
complex reality it studies (Haider and Kreps, 2004, p. 7). Moreover, the effect of
personality and communication behaviour variables would be more appropriately
examined as influencing adoption indirectly, i.e. affecting beliefs and attitudes or
moderating the relationship between the latter and adoption, as suggested by other
theoretical frameworks (for theory comparisons, see also Agarwal (2000)). Note also
that DOI does not acknowledge age and gender differences, although numerous
studies, including this one, have supported such variations. This might be a useful
addition to the theory, at least in voluntary settings. Finally, attributes of innovation
may provide a stronger explanatory power of adoption; the extensive utilisation of
this portion of DOI partially supports this proposition. For example, Agarwal and
Prasads (1997) study indicated that three out of the five proposed characteristics of
innovations (visibility, compatibility and trialability), along with perceived
voluntariness accounted for almost half of the variance in web usage.
Overall, results of this study seem to coincide in most cases with past research
findings and, at least, partially confirm DOI. It should be noted, however, that quite a
different approach was employed for studying information needs, especially internet
usage, compared to those most commonly found in information science literature.
First, the sample study included individuals that could be classified in a number of
different categories, to draw a picture of internet usage and information needs of
individuals residing in a specific area, rather than of a specific group of people
(e.g. teenagers or older people). Second, the quantitative methodology employed does not
allow for an in-depth analysis of information behaviour and technology adoption
patterns. Nonetheless, the effort to connect certain personality and communication
behaviour variables to internet usage, in a single quantitative study may provide the
basis for developing and combining methodologies that would allow for studying larger
groups of individuals than it is possible, when employing a more qualitative approach.

Information needs were examined in relation to various socio-economic

characteristics (Table II). Aggregate results do not indicate major differences between
genders, except for information about job, education and religion, in which females are
more interested. Regarding age, respondents in all age groups are equally interested in
current news/events and weather, which are very popular information types; interest in
religion, politics and general health increases with age. Overall, respondents aged 19-25
show an increased interest in all kinds of information. The shift of interest in other types
of information with age has been widely discussed in relevant literature, while it is
recognised that the issue of information needs can also vary, within a particular age
group, due to different backgrounds, as well as the role each individual presently
occupies (Wicks, 2004). With regard to educational level, interest in half of different
information types in the specific list increases with years of formal education.
Respondents in educational level 5 (post-graduate) are the ones mostly interested in
getting information about consumption, nutrition and job/volunteer issues. Finally,
results regarding employment status and employment sector produce mixed results.
Aggregate results indicate that younger people and individuals with more formal
education show increased information needs compared to all other categories.
No great differences between genders regarding the selection of information sources
are indicated. While the prevailing information source was television, the internet was the
second most popular choice, which is mostly preferred by younger people, students and
individuals with more formal education. Moreover, results regarding source selection
criteria indicate that people who prefer television select an information source based on
ease of understanding, while individuals choosing the internet are mainly concerned with
source trustworthiness (Table II). Based on these results it can be proposed that younger
people and individuals with more formal education can act as advertising agents of the
benefits of internet usage.
To conclude, what should always be kept in mind is that innovation has a relative
meaning for each individual; two different people may have quite different views as to
what constitutes an innovation. For example, making telephone calls using a mobile
phone may be regarded as a highly innovative action for one person, whereas for
another, calls using voice over internet protocol (IP) technology may be an everyday
practice. Despite these differences, the value of studying specific innovations utilising
quantitative methodologies may be poorer in detail but can help the discovery of
common attitudinal and behavioural patterns in larger groups of the population.
Keeping in mind that individuals are inherently different, such methodologies focus
their attention on identifying similarities, which can help the formation of behavioural
change strategies with a larger possibility of success.
What may be the best way to introduce the use of new technology to a population
with important differences in socio-economic and personality characteristics, who may
present a strong resistance to change, can be achieved only by taking one step at a
time. More importantly, the benefits of using new technology should be advertised;
Rogers (2003) argues that there is no better way to do it than through earlier adopters
who act as role models in the social system, due to their high degree of opinion
leadership. The best agents, according to the results, seem to be younger people and
individuals with more formal education. However, this strategy may not prove to be
sufficient; the influence of adult significant others, the workplace and self-motivation
on the use of new technology can be quite strong (Selwyn, 2004). Hill et al. (2008) report

internet usage




that older people are digital unengaged both involuntarily, because of their personal
circumstances, and voluntarily, by making rational decisions to do so. It is generally
important for research to acknowledge the difference between the want-nots and the
have-nots, since tackling inequality of access to ICT solely concerns the latter, who
do not have the option to exercise [. . .] autonomy and choice [. . .] in gaining
technology access (Tavani, 2003, p. 103). This means that the strategy formulated to
enhance digital literacy should be focused on the needs of each targeted population.
In general, the issue of technological diffusion warrants further and more elaborate
examination, since digital inequality within nations, as well as globally, has important
ethical and political implications (Moss, 2002). If there were no tangible benefits that
come from computer and Internet usage, there would be little need for digital divide
research (Hacker and Mason, 2003, p. 100). Moss (2002) argues that people without
access to ICT are underprivileged for various reasons, including significantly
restricted access to knowledge and important information, limited ability to participate
in political processes, threat to their well-being, as access of other goods is also limited
(e.g. employment, knowledge about health outcomes, etc.).
As it stands today, the issue of digital inequality has been addressed so far with a
somewhat simplified manner. For one, researchers and policy makers study digital
inequality by making a simple distinction between the ones who have and the ones
who do not, while [. . .] it is more important to consider how much network presence a
person has on a continuum running from low connectivity to high connectivity
(Hacker and Mason, 2003, p. 101). van Dijk and Hacker (2003) argue that, contrary to
common belief, the problem of digital divides will not be solved when everyone has
access to ICT. The intrinsic complexity of the internet, compared to other ICTs, has not
been fully realised, as not only is it [. . .] interactive and distributive but more
importantly [. . .] because it is the medium of more complex and open-ended types of
use (Couldry, 2003, p. 92). Hence, inequalities are also reflected in the types of internet
usage. Couldry (2003, p. 92), for example, argues that there is a significant difference
between heavy and light internet user in that the former are more likely to
distribute rather than receive information. van Dijk and Hacker (2003) stress that
structural divides concerning skills and usage should be a strategic objective of
policy makers and educators:
[. . .] digital skills not only mean abilities to operate the hardware and software (instrumental
skills). Increasingly, they will mean the ability to search, select, process, and apply
information (informational skills) from digital sources and to strategically use them to
improve ones position in society (strategic skills) (p. 326).

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(The Appendix follows overleaf.)
Corresponding author
Prodromos D. Chatzoglou can be contacted at:

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internet usage


Table AI.
Computer and internet
usage: aggregate results

internet usage

Most recent
internet usage

with internet


Most recent

Individuals with more

years of formal education
are more experienced
computer users

Educational level
Students are the least
experienced users, while
respondents working for
public and private sectors
are the most experienced

Employment status

Employment sector

Respondents working in
other services are the
most experienced users,
while the least
experienced work in
agriculture and
No great differences
Younger people are more Individuals with more
Public and private sector Only respondents in the
recent computer users
years of formal education employees, unemployed
first category have no
are more recent
and students are recent
experience with
computer users
computer users
computer usage
Male respondents are
Younger people use
Respondents in categories Public and private sector Only individuals working
more frequent users than computers more
2 (high school),
employees, unemployed
in trading/dining/hotel
4 (university) and 5
and students are frequent sector report no daily
(post-graduate) are the
computer usage
most frequent users
Males are more
Internet usage experience Individuals with more
Students and not
No conclusive results
experienced than females increases with age
years of formal education currently employed are
are more experienced
the least experienced
internet users
Males are more recent
Younger people are more Individuals with more
Public sector employees
Non-internet users can be
internet users than
recent internet users
years of formal education seem to be familiar with found in all categories but
females. Non-users are
are more recent internet
internet usage. Retired
only female respondents
respondents have never
and services sectors
used the internet
Females are less frequent Younger people use the
Individuals with more
The majority of
Respondents in industry/
users than males
internet more frequently years of formal education respondents in all
access the internet more categories are everyday
construction and services
use the internet everyday

Female respondents are

As age increases the years
less experienced computer of computer usage also
users compared to male



with computer






No great differences Respondents in all age

groups but those aged
64-91 are quite interested
in travel information

No great differences, with

the exception of
respondents in first
category (primary school/
No great differences Interest in hobbies
Interest increases as years
decreases as age increases of formal education
No great differences Not a very popular
Interest increases as years
of formal education

No great differences More popular with

More popular with
respondents in aged 19-25 respondents with postgraduate studies


Respondents with the

more years of formal
education are mostly

No great differences More popular with

respondents aged 19-25

No great differences

Employment sector

Quite important to
respondents in all
categories, with the
exception of those
working in agriculture/
More important for those Quite important to
working in private sector respondents in all
categories, exception for
those working in
Respondents working in
Only respondents
working in public sector industry/manufacturing
and self-employed are not are the most interested in
consumer information
interested in consumer
More popular with private Quite important to all
categories, except for
and public sector
employees. No answer by those working in
agriculture and industry/
More important to those Respondents working in
working in private sector agriculture show the most
More important to those Transportation
working in public sector information is only
important for those
and self-employed
working in industry and
other services sectors
Interest increases as the Respondents working for
years of formal education pubic and private sectors
and self-employed are
mostly interested

No great differences No great differences

No great differences

Employment status

No great differences

Educational level

No great differences No great differences


Personal finance

Current events/


internet usage


Table AII.
Information needs:
aggregate results

Table AII.

No great differences Interest in politics

increases with age


Interest increases as age


Females are more

interested than

Religion and


Local events/

General health

No great differences Only respondents in aged

below 18 and 64-91 are
not at all interested
No great differences Interest increases with
age, with the exception of
respondents in aged 40-63
No great differences Respondents in aged 1925 and 64-91 are mostly
Not a very popular
Females are more
interested than
Respondents in age
Females are more
groups 2 (19-25) and
interested than
3 (26-39) are mostly


Private sector employees

and unemployed are more
interested than
respondents in the other
All categories
Interest decreases as
years of formal education respondents are quite
interested with the
exception of students
Students are the least
More popular with
respondents technological interested compared to
respondents in other
and university-level

Respondents in all sectors

are quite interested in
information about politics

Not a very popular

category, except for those
working in other services

Quite important to all

sectors, except for those
working in agriculture
and construction

More important to those Equally important to all

working in private sector categories but agriculture
and construction
Most important to those
Unemployed are mostly
working in construction
interested in general
health information
Private sector employees Most important to those
are mostly interested
working in agriculture/
Self-employed are mostly Not a very popular

More popular with

respondents with postgraduate studies
Interest increases as years
of formal education
Interest increases as years
of formal education
More popular with
respondents with postgraduate studies
Interest increases as years
of formal education

Employment sector

Employment status

Educational level


Nutrition and




Educational level

Employment status

Employment sector

Information source No great differences


Internet is more popular

to people up to 25 years
old. Older people prefer

Internet is more popular

with people with more
years of formal
education. All others
choose television
As the amount of formal
years of education
increases, ease of
understanding seems to
be of less importance,
with source
trustworthiness taking
its place

Internet is more popular

with students and
private sector
employees. All others
choose television
Ease of understanding is
the basic criterion for
public sector employees,
for those not-in-labourforce and half of the

Internet was selected

only by respondents
working for industry/
manufacturing, services
and other services
Ease of understanding
No great differences
Ease of understanding
Criteria for
is more important for the
was the most popular
information source
majority of respondents
criterion of respondents
in trading, dining and
in age groups 2 (19-25),
hotels, while all
4 (40-63) and 5 (64-91)
individuals working for
construction consider
provision of accurate
information as the most
important attribute of an
information source
Not enough time is
Barrier to
Not enough time is the Not enough time and The results are not very Not enough time is
more popular with
more popular with
indicative since the
information access biggest barrier for male, not sure where to
while not sure where to begin is more important barriers people feel they private sector employees respondents working in
and students. Not sure agriculture and
for respondents aged up face vary greatly in
go for female
construction, while not
to 25. Not sure how to relation to the years of where to go is more
sure where to go for
popular with
access it and where to formal education
information is the
unemployed and other
begin from more
biggest barrier faced by
popular with individuals
people working in
aged 26-63
industry and trading


internet usage


Table AIII.
Information sources and
barriers: aggregate