Freedom of Choice, Ease of Use, and the Formation of Interface Preferences

MIS Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, p. 955, December 2011

University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-747

69 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2010 Last revised: 25 Jul 2013

See all articles by Kyle B. Murray

Kyle B. Murray

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law

Gerald Häubl

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law

Date Written: October 25, 2010

Abstract

How does users’ freedom of choice, or the lack thereof, affect interface preferences? The research reported in this article approaches this question from two theoretical perspectives. The first of these argues that an interface with a dominant market share benefits from the absence of competition because users acquire skills that are specific to that particular interface, which in turn reduces the probability that they will switch to a new competitor interface in the future. By contrast, the second perspective proposes that the advantage that a market leader has in being able to install a set of non-transferable skills in its user base is offset by a psychological force that causes humans to react against perceived constraints on their freedom of choice. We test a research model that incorporates the key predictions of these two theoretical perspectives in an experiment involving consequential interface choices. We find strong support for the second perspective, which builds upon the theory of psychological reactance.

Keywords: Interface Preferences, Ease of Use, Usability, User Skills, Consumer Choice, Psychological Reactance, Human Capital, User Based Learning, Psychological Theory

JEL Classification: M21, M31, D11, D12, D83, C91, D42

Suggested Citation

Murray, Kyle B. and Häubl, Gerald, Freedom of Choice, Ease of Use, and the Formation of Interface Preferences (October 25, 2010). MIS Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, p. 955, December 2011; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-747. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1698204 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1698204

Kyle B. Murray (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
780-248-1091 (Phone)
780-492-4631 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kylemurray.com

Gerald Häubl

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

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