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Digging deeper into perceived network externalities in virtual world use

Our study “Social virtual world continuance among teens: uncovering the moderating role of perceived aggregate network exposure” focuses on the role of network externalities in affecting the continued user engagement in virtual worlds.

In many of my studies on virtual worlds I have investigated the role of perceived network pressure in directly predicting the continuous use (e.g. Mäntymäki & Riemer, 2014) as well as purchase intentions (Mäntymäki & Salo, 2013).

In this study, we introduce the concept of perceived aggregate network exposure (PANE). We extend the information systems (IS) continuance model with perceived enjoyment and position PANE as a moderator. We test the model with data collected from 2134 Finnish Habbo Hotel users and employ structural equation modelling in the analysis. The results demonstrate that PANE moderates the influence of motivational factors on continued use intention. More specifically, among users who experience high levels of PANE, perceived usefulness plays a stronger role but perceived enjoyment a weaker role in predicting continuance intention compared to users experiencing low levels of PANE.

Our study make a contribution to both research and practice since engagement in online social platforms such as virtual worlds has become pervasive, particularly among the young. At the same time, the number of virtual environments has increased rapidly. Due to intensifying competition, promoting sustained usage, i.e. continuance, has become a top priority for virtual world operators. Prior research has shown that network externalities play a key role in the adoption of communication technologies. However, a small amount of research has examined the role of network externalities in continued IT usage in general or with respect to the virtual world participation in particular.

The full paper can be downloaded from my ResearchGate profile.

Bibliographic information

Mäntymäki, Matti & Islam, A.K.M. Najmul (2014) “Social virtual world continuance among teens: uncovering the moderating role of perceived aggregate network exposure”, Behaviour & Information Technology , Vol. 33, No. 5, pp. 536 – 547.