I was sent a meme the other day which apart from making me laugh, actually illustrates our acceptance of modern technologies over a period of time and is the reason for this blog post.

Not sure who created the photo/meme so unable to credit at this time (so thanks internet).

We can explain Technology Acceptance through a model. How we use and perceive technology changes from person to person. There are also external factors that can effect our perception. Lets look at the meme as an example.

Previous advice from fuel vendors has always pointed at not using a mobile at the fuel pump. This information was spread through via an email stating that an influential figure in the fuel market said it was dangerous to use a mobile near a pump. This had a wide impact and the “Do not use your mobile near a fuel pump” sticker was born.

This guidance has been since shown to be a myth and was a topic of Myth Busters experiments. It was proved as busted back in 2004 and that in fact there is more danger from static electricity getting out of the car. This has in the main been accepted and in a complete turn around now and keeping up with modern banking and consumer trends, allow the payment of fuel through a mobile phone (of course you should always follow the latest legislation for use of a mobile whilst driving).

There is a Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (defined by Fred Davies 1989) that can be used to look at how a technology may be accepted through its perceived use and usefulness.

The model is based on four constructs:

  • Perceived ease of use
  • Perceived usefulness
  • Attitudes
  • Actual behaviours

These constructs are linked as per the model diagram below:


The model suggests that when users are presented with a new technology, a number of factors influence their decision about how and when they will use it, notably:

Perceived usefulness (PU) or (U) – This was defined by Fred Davis as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance their job performance”. It means whether or not someone perceives that technology to be useful for what they want to do.

Perceived ease-of-use (PEOU) or (E) – Davis defined this as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort” (Davis 1989). If the technology is easy to use, then the barriers conquered. If it’s not easy to use and the interface is complicated, no one has a positive attitude towards it.


The External Variables are factors that can effect the four constructs such as

  • Social influence
  • Design
  • Content
  • Entertainment
  • Cost

Social media is one external variable to add to the list, that has a growing impact on the PU and PEOU. Going back to the petrol pump analogy, in the video earlier referenced an influential person in the industry is quoted as saying don’t use mobiles at the pumps. In todays world the use of social media would have this message out quicker than an email, influencing how the product is used, myth or not. This has an influence on our perception of the technology.

The model however does not account for people doing things not as planned or rational. Here is a good video explaining the Technology Acceptance Model: