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Why Do People Use Digital Applications? A Qualitative Analysis of Usage Goals and Psychological Need Fulfillment

dc.contributor.authorZimmermann, Sina
dc.contributor.authorGerber, Nina
dc.description.abstractFor many people, digital applications, especially messengers, social networks and cloud services, have become an important part of their daily life. Although most users express privacy concerns regarding the use of digital applications, their concerns do not prevent users from sharing personal information with such applications. A reason for this seemingly paradoxical behavior could be that users pursue certain goals when they are using these applications, which possibly overweigh their privacy concerns. We thus conducted semi-structured interviews with 17 users, with most of them being psychology students, to investigate why they use digital applications (i. e., messengers, social networks, cloud services, digital assistants, and Smart TVs) and what psychological needs they aim to fulfill by using these applications. Our study further included a card sorting task, in which the participants ranked the relevance of ten psychological needs for each of the investigated digital applications they reported to use. Using open coding for the analysis of the interview questions, and a quantitative analysis of the card sorting task, we identified four main psychological needs people aim to fulfill by using digital applications: (1) relatedness-belongingness, (2) competence-effectance, (3) pleasure-stimulation, and (4) autonomy-independence, and four additional psychological needs which are application-specific: (5) security, (6) popularity-influence, (7) self-actualization-meaning, and (8) money-luxury. Besides this, we identified several concerns (e. g., data abuse, privacy invasion, and eavesdropping) and reasons why people refrain from using certain digital applications (i. e., the lack of benefits, malfunction, high costs, and the fear of being eavesdropped on). The fulfillment of the psychological needs seem to overweigh those privacy concerns and play a major role for people’s intention to use digital applications, which is why users will not use alternative privacy friendly applications if these do not allow for the fulfillment of those needs in the same way established applications do.en
dc.publisherDe Gruyter
dc.relation.ispartofi-com: Vol. 18, No. 3
dc.subjectdigital applications
dc.subjectpsychological needs
dc.subjectsocial networks
dc.subjectcloud services
dc.subjectdigital assistants
dc.subjectSmart TVs
dc.subjectprivacy concerns
dc.titleWhy Do People Use Digital Applications? A Qualitative Analysis of Usage Goals and Psychological Need Fulfillmenten
dc.typeText/Journal Article
gi.conference.sessiontitleResearch Article