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Abstract

The wide diffusion of Instant Messaging (IM) in a voluntary social context calls for studies to examine the value of computer-mediated communication technologies in developing interpersonal relationships. By integrating three interpersonal factors into a model of motivation from the technology acceptance literature, we develop and test a research model to explain an individual's continuous use of IM in keeping and sustaining interpersonal relationships. We find that the behavioral intention to continue using IM was predicated by perceived usefulness, perceived enjoyment, and perceived critical mass. Attachment motivation, relationship commitment, and perceived critical mass were all positively associated with perceived enjoyment. Perceived enjoyment and perceived critical mass had significant effects on perceived usefulness. The results imply that IM is a useful and fun tool for fulfilling one's need for attachment and commitment and for gathering online with one's friends, family members, and others. In addition, perceived enjoyment is the dominant factor explaining grassroots adoption of communication technologies. Finally, it is important to integrate utility factors (usefulness and enjoyment) with social factors in studying communication technologies.

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