Student researcher

Sampada Marathe (PhD Student)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

This paper was presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, CA, 2007.


Technological advances have been at the forefront of buildings interfaces that have the ‘coolest’ new features. But not enough is being done to see how many users actually use those features and to what extent. Most technological devices seem to be built and hyped up with different features merely on the premise: ‘If you build it, they will come’. But research has suggested that most users go with the default settings (Rosson, 1984) or with the form or content that is given to them and never customize. On the other hand, some contradictory studies also suggest that there might be some users that are confident enough to explore all available options and take the time to build an interface that represents their personal interests (Manber, Patel & Robison, 2000). So what is it about customization that makes only some users make use of the customization features while keeping the vast majority pleased with default settings?

Do the psychological constructs of Need for Uniqueness and Need for Control predict amount of customization users engage in? How does Computer/Technology affect the relationship between Need for Uniqueness, Need for Control and Amount of Customization? This paper is an effort to empirically test the above questions. An online survey was conducted with a sample of 513 respondents on a University campus. All three predictors significantly predict amount of customization, but the moderating relationship is not observed. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.


H1: High need for uniqueness will positively influence the amount of customization.

H2: High need for control will positively affect the amount of customization.

H3: Technology efficacy will positively affect the amount of customization.

H4: Technology efficacy will moderate the relationship between need for control, need for uniqueness and amount of customization.


To explore the above stated relationships between the variables, an online survey was conducted on a University campus. Participants were recruited from undergraduate classes from the Communication and Marketing departments. The questionnaire link was provided to them and they were asked to fill out the survey within a four day period. They were instructed to complete the survey in one sitting and at a place where there would be minimum disturbance.


Standard Least Squares Regression analyses were conducted for all hypotheses. The analyses revealed that all three variables separately accounted for a significant portion of variance in the dependent variable. H4 was not supported. This test however, revealed a significant result for need for control, F (1, 505) = 3.88, p<0.05 and efficacy, F (1, 505) = 14.94, p<0.000. Further analysis was conducted with need for control as predictor and with efficacy as a statistical control. Need for control still came up as a significant predictor for customization, F (1, 510) = 4.89, p<0.05.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University