User disposition and extent of Web utilization: A trait hierarchy approach


As it evolves, the World Wide Web (the Web) increasingly reveals the potential to enhance new aspects of our daily lives. While some take full advantage of the Web's diverse and cutting edge offerings, others choose to limit the extent of their utilization to a small subset of the Web's available functions. Recognizing this variation, a growing body of research investigates the drivers of usage behavior on the Web. Individual differences, namely broad personality and IT-specific traits, are highlighted within this stream as important predictors of Web use. Although substantial progress has been made, an important issue still facing trait research in this area is the absence of a theory-grounded basis for inter-relating broad personality and IT-specific traits. As a result, the accumulation of extant trait research is characterized by a disjointed assortment of trait constructs lacking clear theoretical linkages with one another. Additionally, while numerous studies have investigated isolated Web usage behaviors, an important outcome that remains under-investigated is the extent of an individual's utilization of the Web overall. Addressing these issues, the current study leverages the hierarchical view of traits to develop a theory-grounded, integrative model of broad personality and IT-specific traits. After developing the hierarchical model, the integrated network of traits is positioned as a direct antecedent of Web utilization and empirically tested via a two-stage field survey of 230 Web users. The results corroborate most of the hypotheses, providing support for the hierarchical view and extending the knowledge base on Web-user behavior. Overall, this study unifies disjointed personality and IT-specific trait constructs and offers theoretical guidance for future studies, introducing a much-needed ground for cumulative tradition within this stream.

Document Type





trait hierarchy, web utilization, IT-specific traits, personality, individual differences

Publication Date


Journal Title

International Journal of Human-Computer Studies