The Effect of the Number of Opinion Seekers and Leaders on Technology Attitudes and Choices

Authors

  • Arun Vishwanath

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Informatics, The State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260-1060
      Arun Vishwanath; email: avishy@buffalo.edu.
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Arun Vishwanath; email: avishy@buffalo.edu.

Abstract

Status, which implies a positive evaluation by other members of the group, remains one aspect of group structure that has not received much theoretical or empirical evaluation. Although a number of researchers have focused on status and its emergence, the influence of the number of group members who share status has never been explored. This paper focuses on group relationships and examines the impact of the number of opinion seekers and opinion leaders on individual technology-related attitudes and behavior. The research model was built on the social influence model presented by J. Fulk (1993) and tested across multiple moderating variables suggested in the social psychological literature including cohesiveness, three types of uncertainty, two levels of uncertainty, and two media types. Contrary to the dominant theoretical position, the number of opinion leaders did not always influence technology attitudes; rather, in host of high-attraction conditions, the number of opinion seekers had a significant influence. The influence of the number of opinion seekers was moderated by the degree of cohesiveness—indicating internalization of attitudes rather than compliance. Also moderating this relationship were the type and level of uncertainty and the type of media chosen.

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