ABCs of KMPersonality types and acceptance of technical knowledge management systems (TKMS)

Personality types and information systems adoption [Personality & TKMS series]

This is part 12 of a series of articles featuring edited portions of Dr. Maureen Sullivan’s PhD dissertation.

Personality tests are used to determine an individual‘s values, skills, personality types, and interests. A person‘s aptitude for a certain type of occupation or career can be ascertained with these tests. Personality tests include tests that measure personality types by selected colors and tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which determines an individual‘s personality type for employment and career options.

Myers-Briggs studies

Many studies have been performed that center around the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in industry to measure the personality types of workers and managers. More specifically, some researchers have begun to investigate the influence of personality types on information systems (IS) use in organizations. Moreover, the MBTI is the primary instrument used to capture Carl Jung‘s concepts on personality types1.

Ludford and Terveen2 demonstrated the use of the MBTI in IS use by conducting a study that showed that a small sample of 20 individuals used various task-oriented technologies differently depending on their MBTI type. The results of this study indicated that perceivers were more likely to save task-related email once a project was complete, and judgers were more likely to delete them. Additionally, the study indicated that thinkers were more likely to use editorial reviews in evaluating CDs on, and feelers were more likely to rely on their own listening experience.

Taylor3 conducted a larger study using the MBTI in IS use that involved 257 software development employees. The study found that cognitive style affected use of the company‘s KM infrastructure. For instance, analytical people were more likely than intuitive people to use the company‘s data mining, knowledge repository, and Lotus Notes features.

Overall, these cognitive style studies in personality research provide further support for a dispositional view of personal factors as a determinant of information system adoption, and suggest that the way people process information and make judgments affects their internet use4.

Five-factor model studies

In the past, IS literature has excluded information about individual characteristics issues and, specifically, the issue of personality. In fact, research performed by Huber5 opposed the study of cognitive style as a source for decision support systems. Additionally, not much has been written in the IS literature about personality as an area of individual difference.

However, the progress of personality psychology has produced different ways to incorporate individual traits into IS models. For instance, the latest theories in personality psychology suggest adopting the five-factor model (FFM) in studying personality in IS system use6. As a result, researchers are beginning to conduct studies in the relationship of personality traits to IS system use and acceptance.

Devaraj, Easley, & Crant7 performed a study to provide an example of the combination of  FFM and IS theory by examining the relationship of technology acceptance to personality. The study examined how the acceptance and technology use are affected by the relationship of user personality with perceived usefulness of and subjective norms. The data collected in the study supported the hypotheses that indicated how FFM personality dimensions could be used to predict users’ attitudes and beliefs and the relationship between intention to use and actual system use; “Recent personality research has emphasized the relationship of personality variables to established, well-understood models”.

Meanwhile, IS research scholars have suggested that future IS research should progress beyond the technology acceptance model (TAM)8. Consequently, the personality and technical knowledge management systems (TKMS) study addresses these directives by discovering that the TAM constructs are affected by the personality body of literature.

The Devaraj, Easley, & Crant study shows that an important role in IS research is the integration of individual differences in personality. Furthermore, Devaraj, Easley, & Crant suggested that future research include the examination of the effect of personality on TAM after the systems have been used extensively. Similarly, the personality and technical knowledge management systems (TKMS) study assisted in determining, using TAM, if there are any relationships to the personality types of users in their acceptance of TKMSs.

Next edition: Measuring personality types using the five-factor model.


  1. Wheeler, P.R., Hunton, J.E., & Bryant, S.M. (2004). Accounting information systems research opportunities using personality type theory and the Myers-Briggs type indicator. Journal of Information Systems, 18(1), 1-19. doi:10.2308/jis.2004.18.1.1
  2. Ludford, P., & Terveen, L. (2003). Does an individual‘s Myers-Briggs type indicator
    preference influence task-oriented technology use? In G.W.M. Rauterberg, G.W.M. Menozzi & J. Wesson (Eds.), Human-computer interaction INTERACT ’03, (pp. 623-633). Amsterdam: IOS Press.
  3. Taylor, W. A. (2004). Computer-mediated knowledge sharing and individual user differences: An exploratory study. European Journal of Information Systems, 13(1), 52-64. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ejis.3000484
  4. McElroy, J. C., Hendrickson, A. R., Townsend, A. M., & DeMarie, S. M. (2007). Dispositional factors in internet use: Personality versus cognitive style. MIS Quarterly, 31(4), 809-820.
  5. Huber, G. P. (1983). Cognitive style as a basis for MIS and DSS designs: Much ado about nothing? Management Science, 29(5), 567-579.
  6. Devaraj, S., Easley, R. F., & Crant, M. J. (2008). How does personality matter? relating the five-factor model to technology acceptance and use. Information Systems Research, 19(1), 93-105. doi:10.1287/isre.1070.0153
  7. Devaraj, S., Easley, R. F., & Crant, M. J. (2008). How does personality matter? relating the five-factor model to technology acceptance and use. Information Systems Research, 19(1), 93-105. doi:10.1287/isre.1070.0153
  8. Devaraj, S., Easley, R. F., & Crant, M. J. (2008). How does personality matter? relating the five-factor model to technology acceptance and use. Information Systems Research, 19(1), 93-105. doi:10.1287/isre.1070.0153
Rate this post

Maureen Sullivan

Dr. Maureen Sullivan is an information technology official in the US federal government workspace. She also teaches technology courses at a Maryland community college. Dr. Sullivan is continuing her research in technical knowledge management systems.

Related Articles

Back to top button