Determining Uses and Gratifications for the Internet


  • The AOL “running guy” logo is used with permission, as is the AOL demographic comparison in the Appendix. Many thanks to AOL Senior Vice President Dennis Gonier for help with data collection, study conceptualization, and intellectual property permissions.

  • Wynne Chin and Carol Saunders provided substantial guidance in the methodological and manuscript preparation stages of the study, for which we are quite grateful.

  • The comments and guidance of two anonymous reviewers and the associate editor were instrumental in refining this manuscript for publication. We are particularly grateful for their guidance on theoretical integration.

† Corresponding author.


Uses and gratifications (U&G) is a media use paradigm from mass communications research that guides the assessment of consumer motivations for media usage and access. It has been used previously in research and decision making related to the promotion of emerging radio and television media. Recent adaptations of U&G research to the Internet are incomplete and have not identified important new Internet-specific gratifications. This paper empirically derives dimensions of consumer Internet use and usage gratifications among customers of a prominent Internet Service Provider (ISP). Results describe three key dimensions related to consumer use of the Internet, including process and content gratifications as previously found in studies of television, as well as an entirely new social gratification that is unique to Internet use. All three dimensions of gratification are relevant to managing the Internet as a commercial medium, and measures developed from the gratification profiles identified here can serve as trait-valid scales in future Internet and e-commerce research.