BYRNES, ELIZABETH ANNE; PHD

                         ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, 1983

                         EDUCATION, EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY (0525)

                         In the present study, the diffusion of a major innovation into an essentially pre-technological field is
                         empirically studied. The process of diffusion when unplanned, can be haphazard and unpredictable. The
                         contention of this thesis is that successful adoption of new technologies requires a comprehensive
                         understanding of the receivers of new techniques, practices, and ideas. Specifically, it is necessary to
                         know the personality, social, and demographic characteristics of the mental health innovator. It is widely
                         acknowledged that the very first users of a new idea have marked influence on whether or not the idea
                         will be adopted by subsequent members of the field. A hypothetical profile of the innovator was derived
                         from an extensive review of the literature. This profile served as the basis for the hypotheses in this
                         study. It was hypothesized that personality and demographic variables could be used to discriminate
                         innovators from non-innovators. Two hundred fifty owners of on-line computer assessment systems
                         (known to be among the first) were contacted by mail and asked to complete the PRF-E, a
                         comprehensive personality questionnaire, and a bio-demographical questionnaire. Sixty-eight agreed to
                         participate representing a 26% response rate. In addition, a random sample of three hundred
                         non-owners was contacted. Forty-eight agreed to participate, representing a 16% response rate. A cross
                         validated stepwise discriminant analysis confirmed that personality and demographic variables are able to
                         discriminate innovators from non-innovators. However, the discriminant function was more successful in
                         classifying innovators than non-innovators. Personality variables discriminated with the greatest accuracy
                         and consistency. In the cross validation procedure, innovators were correctly classified 75% of the time
                         while non-innovators were correctly classified only 50% of the time. The results of this study indicate that
                         innovators of computerized psychological assessment are distinct types of professionals as compared
                         with non-innovators. The implications of this research are discussed in terms of the importance of
                         understanding the diffusion process. The need for improved communication between researchers and
                         the rest of society is emphasized. Recommendations for further research are presented.


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