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A Social Cognitive Explanation of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Theory of Media Attendance
Unformatted Document Text:  Internet skills are acquired, users must continue to develop skills and confidence in using the Internet to obtain useful information (i.e., obtain novel sensory experiences) and improve their social position. Further, as Internet technology advances, self-efficacy will theoretically play an important role in the adoption and utilization of its advanced capabilities. The Internet emerges from the present study as something of a distinctive medium, but perhaps not in ways previously described. That the Internet is a medium of social interaction is indisputable, but a question now arises as to the purpose of the social interaction. Prior research, especially that surrounding the so-called Internet Paradox (Kraut, Patterson, Lundmark, Kiesler, Mukophadhyay, & Scherlis, 1998) focused on social interaction as a means of securing social support and thereby improving psychological well-being. Now it appears that social status, not social support might be the prime mover in Internet usage. And, the enjoyable activities pursued on the Internet may also be a means of achieving status, such as the “bragging rights” to the “coolest” selection of MP3 recordings. Perhaps by finding like-minded individuals on the Internet and expressing ourselves in those venues we enhance our social status. Or, recalling Turkle’s (1995) Life on the Screen ethnography, perhaps the Internet is a means of constantly exploring and trying out new, improved versions of our selves. From this we should begin to empirically explore dimensions of social expectations, distinguishing social development (whether as the “true” self or virtual self), social support, and social maintenance.

Authors: Eastin, Matthew. and Larose, Robert.
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Internet skills are acquired, users must continue to develop skills and confidence in using
the Internet to obtain useful information (i.e., obtain novel sensory experiences) and
improve their social position. Further, as Internet technology advances, self-efficacy will
theoretically play an important role in the adoption and utilization of its advanced
capabilities.
The Internet emerges from the present study as something of a distinctive
medium, but perhaps not in ways previously described. That the Internet is a medium of
social interaction is indisputable, but a question now arises as to the purpose of the social
interaction. Prior research, especially that surrounding the so-called Internet Paradox
(Kraut, Patterson, Lundmark, Kiesler, Mukophadhyay, & Scherlis, 1998) focused on
social interaction as a means of securing social support and thereby improving
psychological well-being. Now it appears that social status, not social support might be
the prime mover in Internet usage. And, the enjoyable activities pursued on the Internet
may also be a means of achieving status, such as the “bragging rights” to the “coolest”
selection of MP3 recordings. Perhaps by finding like-minded individuals on the Internet
and expressing ourselves in those venues we enhance our social status. Or, recalling
Turkle’s (1995) Life on the Screen ethnography, perhaps the Internet is a means of
constantly exploring and trying out new, improved versions of our selves. From this we
should begin to empirically explore dimensions of social expectations, distinguishing
social development (whether as the “true” self or virtual self), social support, and social
maintenance.


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