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  • 1. CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIORVolume 11, Number 3, 2008© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2007.0063 Rapid Communication The Influence of Reading Motives on the Responses after Reading Blogs LI-SHIA HUANG, Ph.D.,1 YU-JEN CHOU, Ph.D.,2 and CHE-HUNG LIN, M.B.A.3 ABSTRACTAs the number of blogs increases dramatically, these online forums have become importantmedia people use to share feelings and information. Previous research of blogs focuses onwriters (i.e., bloggers), but the influence of blogs also requires investigations from readers’perspectives. This study therefore explores motives for reading blogs and discusses their ef-fects on the responses after reading blogs. According to a factor analysis of 204 respondentsin Taiwan, motives for reading blogs consist of affective exchange, information search, en-tertainment, and getting on the bandwagon. A regression analysis suggests the effects of thesemotives on three major responses—opinion acceptance, interaction intentions, and word-of-mouth (WOM) intentions—reflect the influence of blogs. Specifically, readers who focus onaffective exchanges believe blog messages, interact with bloggers, and spread messages toothers. Information search and entertainment motives positively affect opinion acceptance;blog readers who focus on information and those who read for fun both view blogs as trust-worthy sources. Getting on the bandwagon also positively influences interaction and WOMintentions; these readers interact with bloggers and transmit messages to others. INTRODUCTION writing.8,9 Scholars also consider readers’ responses after reading blogs, such as trust10 and interaction.11B LOGS, OR WEBLOGS, provide useful tools of computer-mediated communication,1 andtheir number has increased dramatically recently. However, this previous research almost exclusively focuses on the writers of blogs (i.e., bloggers) and ignores the important influence of blogs from thePeople can share their feelings, photos, ideas, is- readers’ perspective.sues, opinions, and information on personal or This study explores this perspective by investi-company weblogs, which in turn play influential gating the motives and responses of blog readers.roles in electronic word-of-mouth (WOM) net- First, it explores the dimensions of reading motives.works.2 Second, it examines the effects of reading motives Previous research of blogs generally investigates on three responses: opinion acceptance, interactionblog categories,3,4,5,6 motives for use,7 or motives for intentions, and WOM intentions. The findings offer 1Department of Business Administration, Fu-Jen Catholic University, Hsinchuang City, Taiwan, Republic of China. 2Department of Business Administration, Ming Chuan University, Taiwan, Republic of China. 3 Graduate Institute of Management, Fu-Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. 351
  • 2. 352 HUANG ET AL.important implications for blog writers, readers, ily post their own comments. Interactivity thereforeand further research. is an important characteristic of blogs and should have positive impact on attitude toward the WebMotivations to use, write, and read blogs site.11 The interactive nature of a blog may prompt users to publish their opinions, which in turn in- Previous studies of blogs indicate that few dis- fluences how people assess the Web site. Third,tinguish between the reader and writer. Some re- reading blogs may influence WOM intentions. Hen-search employs the term users to include both blog nig-Thurau and Walsh13 employ electronic WOM asreaders and writers. For example, Kaye7 classifies a crucial response after people have read onlinemotives for using blogs into six dimensions and opinions. This study extends their results to blogssuggests that expression and affiliation explain most and infers that people will want to share informa-of the reasons people use blogs. Some other research tion with others after reading messages on blogs.explores solely the motives for writing blogs.8,9 This Thus, this study also includes WOM intention tostudy instead explores the motives for reading signify the influence of blogs.blogs, a topic rarely considered in existing literature. Since most previous studies of blogs stress thefactors that trigger bloggers to write or use a Website, they continually overlook the roles of blog MATERIALS AND METHODSreaders. Because of this dearth of research, this Although several studies deal with the motivesstudy examines literature pertaining to motives for behind browsing Web sites or online discussions,reading or browsing messages on traditional com- these motives may not apply exactly to blogs. There-munity Web sites and extends it to blogs. Wang and fore, this study developed specific measures to dis-Fesenmaier12 use online travel communities as an cern motives for reading blogs. The researchersexample and suggest that people who participate started by gathering items from existing literature,mainly appreciate the social benefits, which implies then interviewed several blog readers and usedthat they hope to provide assistance or discuss their their responses to modify those items. Next, the re-views with other members. Furthermore, a hedonic searchers conducted a survey and used factor anal-benefit might derive from an experience of enter- ysis to extract the critical motives. Regression anal-tainment, excitement, happiness, or warm feelings ysis was employed to understand which motiveduring the interaction with the site. Hennig-Thurau affects which responses.and Walsh13 explore the motives behind reading As mentioned previously, this study measuredcomments online and the influences of such read- three responses to reading blogs: opinion accep-ing and find that consumers express five motives to tance, interaction intention, and WOM intention.read online opinions, including social orientation Opinion acceptance reflects the degree of belief inthrough information, community membership, and and approval of the messages on blogs and is mea-so on. Although the communication medium dif- sured by six items, such as (a) the messages on blogsfers, this study uses these conceptualizations as ref- are persuasive to me and (b) I would like to believe theerences to develop the measures. messages on blogs. Interaction intention is the ten- dency to interact with bloggers, measured by eightResponses after reading blogs items, such as (a) I would reply messages to the blog- As a popular Internet platform, blogs may affect gers and (b) I would like to participate activities held bythe daily lives of many people. Various investiga- bloggers. Finally, WOM intention is the tendency totions and studies of blogs identify their significance, transmit messages on blogs to other people and isbut little academic research addresses people’s re- measured by six items, such as (a) I would recom-sponses after they read blogs. This study therefore mend good blogs to my friends and (b) I would forwardexamines three important such responses: opinion some interesting articles on blogs to my friends. Allacceptance, interaction intentions, and WOM inten- items were measured with 7-point Likert scales: 1,tions. All of these variables clearly reflect the influ- strongly disagree, to 7, strongly agree. The values ofence of blogs. First, opinion acceptance is the judg- Cronbach’s alpha for all three variables were greaterment of trust after reading messages and thus than 0.70, suggesting good internal consistency.represents an important variable for understanding According to E-ICP, a marketing research agencythe impacts of blogs.10 Second, interaction intention in Taiwan, most blog users are younger than 29represents another important response in that blogs years of age. People between 20 and 29 years of ageprovide space for bloggers to share information or have a greater tendency to use blogs than do otherfeelings with other people, and blog readers can eas- age groups. Thus, the researchers delivered the
  • 3. BLOG READING MOTIVES AND RESPONSES 353questionnaires to Taiwanese graduate and under- Seventy-five percent of the respondents had theirgraduate students who have read blogs. From the own blogs. The median category of blog reading fre-246 respondents contacted, 204 were effective. The quency was 14 days to 1 month. The median cate-questionnaire consists of three parts. The first part gory of average time spent on reading blogs perpertains to motives for reading blogs and includes time was 30 minutes to 1 hour. The male and female36 items. The second part pertains to general re- respondents did not reveal significantly differentsponses after reading blogs, including opinion patterns in any of the measures.acceptance, interaction intentions, and WOM inten- Factor analysis was conducted with varimax rota-tions. The third part contains demographic ques- tion, extracting eight factors with eigenvalues greatertions. than 1. The eight factors accounted for 65.32% of the total variance. The variances accounted for by each of the latter four factors were lower than 5% and thus RESULTS were deleted to condense the results. The remaining four factors accounted for 46.06% of the variance. The Among the 204 effective samples, 59% of the re- researchers further selected items with loadingsspondents were female. The mean age was 22 years. greater than 0.70 and representative of the factor, re- TABLE 1. FACTOR ANALYSIS OF BLOG READING MOTIVES Facator Loadings FactorFactor items 1 2 3 4Factor 1: Affective exchange ( 0.88) I usually keep contact with friends by reading their blogs. 0.81 0.11 0.10 0.06 I would spend some time in reading friends’ blogs. 0.76 0.09 0.13 0.03 I would express my care to friends by reading their blogs. 0.75 0.13 0.23 0.02 I can keep informed of my friends’ status through blogs. 0.72 0.03 0.06 0.11 Leaving a message on my friends’ blogs can make our 0.71 0.15 0.01 0.02 relationship better. I would like to share experiences with friends on blogs. 0.64 0.10 0.32 0.20 I can interact with bloggers through reading their blogs. 0.60 0.03 0.12 0.16 Replying to others’ blogs can express my feelings. 0.51 0.05 0.34 0.15Factor 2: Information search ( 0.89) I would search information on blogs. 0.01 0.84 0.06 0.20 I can find the information I want on blogs. 0.08 0.80 0.13 0.08 I would searach on blogs as I need some information. 0.02 0.79 0.15 0.04 I read blogs for the purpose of searching information. 0.04 0.78 0.00 0.25 It is an easy task to search information on blogs. 0.02 0.70 0.30 0.11 I can learn some new knowledge on blogs. 0.02 0.66 0.29 0.24Factor 3: Entertainment ( 0.84) I would browse blogs when I feel bored. 0.25 0.08 0.82 0.05 I would like to spend my leisure time on reading blogs. 0.30 0.30 0.70 0.13 Reading blogs can prevent me from feeling bored. 0.52 0.22 0.63 0.11 I would read the hot issues on blogs. 0.03 0.26 0.61 0.34 I usually do not have specific purpose when I 0.07 0.16 0.56 0.05 browse blogs. Reading articles on blogs makes me have fun. 0.20 0.17 0.55 0.02Factor 4: Bandwagon effect ( 0.84) I would read the hot blogs listed on the billboard. 0.05 0.16 0.09 0.86 I would read the blogs which are clicked by many people. 0.05 0.15 0.06 0.81 I would read the hot articles on blogs. 0.12 0.24 0.14 0.63Eigenvalue 4.82 4.59 3.87 3.31Variance explained (%) 13.40 12.74 10.74 9.19
  • 4. 354 HUANG ET AL.sulting in 23 items total. The Cronbach’s alpha of each nally, bandwagon motive has a positive effect on in-factor was greater than 0.70, suggesting good inter- teraction and WOM intentions.nal consistency. These factors and the related items This study has several practical implications forare listed in Table 1. bloggers who want to enhance their influences via The mean scores of the factors were taken as the Internet. First, among the four motives of readingfour independent variables, and the three response blogs, affective exchange motive has positive im-variables as the dependent variables. The results of pacts on all of the three responses. This indicatesthe regression analysis appear in Table 2 and sug- that affective exchange is the most important mo-gest that the affective exchange motive had positive tive for individuals to read blogs, and bloggerseffects on opinion acceptance, interaction inten- should not ignore the affective element that makestions, and WOM intentions. That is, readers who fo- blogs differ from other traditional online discussioncus on affective exchanges tend to believe messages groups. Second, people who read blogs for infor-on blogs, interact with bloggers, and spread mes- mation search or entertainment take blogs as a trust-sages to others. The information search and enter- worthy source of information. Thus bloggers shouldtainment motives also had positive effects on opin- ensure the accuracy and newness of information onion acceptance, so that blog readers who focus on their blogs to maintain their reputation. As for theinformation can find something they trust, and blog entertainment element, enhancing vividness and in-readers who read just for fun similarly believe blogs teresting factors in blog design may be an effectiveare a trustworthy medium. Finally, the bandwagon way to attract readers’ attention and deliver blog-motive had positive effects on interaction and WOM gers’ opinions. Third, since bandwagon effects pos-intentions; specifically, the results indicated that itively influence interaction intentions and WOMreaders of fashion blogs tend to interact with blog- intentions, businessmen could cooperate with somegers and transmit messages to others. “hot” blogs to design some commercial activities. This study investigates the motives and re- sponses of blog readers but contains several limita- DISCUSSION tions. First, the sample selection focuses on gradu- ate and undergraduate students, and different This study offers several contributions. First, segments may have different motives for readingwhereas prior research mostly focused on bloggers,8,9 blogs. Such segments might differ in their demo-this work explored the motives and responses of read- graphics, personality, values, lifestyle, or involve-ers. Second, this study identified four specific motives ment. Further research should investigate such var-of blog readers in Taiwan: affective exchange, infor- ied segments of blog readers.mation search, entertainment, and bandwagon effect. Second, this study identifies reading motives forThird, this study examined the causal effects between general blogs, but the fields of blogs vary and in-these motives and responses (e.g., opinion acceptance, clude entertainment, literature, politics, educations,interaction intentions, WOM intentions). Through art, and so forth. Additional research should deter-these efforts, this study shows that affective exchange mine whether readers have different motives formotive positively influences all three responses, different blog fields or different importance rank-whereas information search and entertainment mo- ings for various attributes in different blogs. Thesetives positively influence opinion acceptance only. Fi- topics would prove interesting for further research. TABLE 2. REGRESSION RESULTS: STANDARDIZED COEFFICIENTS AND T STATISTICS (IN PARENTHESES) Dependent variable Opinion acceptance Interaction intention WOM intentionFactor 1: Affective exchange 0.18 (2.50)* 0.43 (6.28)** 0.34 (5.14)**Factor 2: Information search 0.18 (2.64)** 0.07 ( 1.04) 0.00 (0.05)Factor 3: Entertainment 0.25 (3.24)** 0.13 (1.69) 0.05 (0.69)Factor 4: Bandwagon effect 0.12 (1.73) 0.27 (4.34)** 0.43 (6.98)**Adjusted R2 0.27** 0.35** 0.38**Model F statistic 19.53** 28.42** 31.51** *p 0.05; **p 0.01.
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