Book part: “Blind as a Bat”: Users of Social Networking Services and Their Biased Quality Estimations in TAM-like Surveys
Studies concerning the quality and the acceptance of services on the Internet often make use of the technology acceptance model (TAM) or related models (e.g., TAM 2, TAM 3, UTAUT, MATH, and ISE), which in turn bank on the results of user surveys. TAM-like approaches try to measure information systems’ quality on dimensions, such as perceived ease of use, perceived utility, trustworthiness, and fun. Yet all of those dimensions are constructs. Are the constructs valid? Empirical studies based on the TAM model family always work with quantitative user surveys. Are the surveys valid and reliable? We reviewed the validity and reliability of surveys using the example of social networking services (SNSs). Each user will be “socialized” through her or his standard quasimonopolistic SNS (e.g., Facebook in Germany and VKontakte in Russia). The evaluation of both the standard and a nonstandard SNS ultimately results in a discovery called standard-dependent user blindness (SDUB). SDUB is a newly discovered method bias in quantitative TAM-like surveys that pertain to using Internet services. It thus appears impossible to gather unbiased user perceptions on the network markets of the Internet. If this discovery were indeed generalizable, it would have strong consequences for empirical research on the Internet insofar as it relies on quantitative user surveys.