The Diffusion of Innovation, 5th ed by Everett Rogers

Chapter 7 – Innovativeness and Adopter Categories

  • Individuals can be classified into adopter categories on the basis of when they first begin using a new idea. Because innovativeness is the main objective of many changes agencies, it became the main dependent variable in diffusion research. Innovativeness indicates behavioral change, the ultimate goal of most diffusion programs, rather than just cognitive or attitudinal change.

A Continuous Variable

  • Innovativeness is a continuous variable, and partitioning it into discrete categories is a conceptual device, much like dividing social classes into upper, middle, and lower classes. It is a simplification that aids the understanding of human behavior, although it loses some information as a result of grouping individuals.

The Categories Are

  • 1) Innovators (2.5%) or less than 2 standard deviations (sd) from the mean in terms of time of adoption.
  • 2) Early adopters – from -2 sd to -1 sd (13.5%)
  • 3) Early majority – from -1 sd to the mean (34%)
  • 4) Last majority – from the mean to +1 sd (34%)
  • 5) Laggards – greater than +1 sd (16%)
  • There are also those who never adopt. (eg. Amish)

Innovators are Venturesome

  • Venturesomeness is almost an obsession with innovators. Their interest in new ideas leads them out of a local circle of peer networks and into more cosmopolite social relationships. Control of substantial financial resources is helpful in absorbing the possible losses from an unprofitable innovation. The ability to understand and apply complex technical knowledge is also needed. One also must be able to cope with a high degree of uncertainty. While they may not be respected, they play a gatekeeper role in the flow of new ideas into a system.

Early Adopters: Respect

  • They are a more integrated part of the local social system. They are localities rather than cosmopolites. They have the highest degree of opinion leadership and people look to them for advice and information about an innovation. They are sought by change agents as local missionaries for speeding the diffusion process. They put their stamp of approval on an innovation by adopting it. They Are no different in age, have more years of formal education, are more likely to be literate, possess higher social status, have a higher degree of upward social mobility, have larger-sized units such as farms, schools, companies, etc.
  • They have greater empathy. This is the ability to project oneself into the role of another person. They may be less dogmatic. This is the degree to which an individual has a closed belief system.They have a greater ability to deal with abstractions. They have greater rationality. This is the use of the most effective means to a given end. They have more intelligence, a more favorable attitude toward change, are better able to cope with uncertainty, have a more favorable attitude towards science, are less fatalistic, and have higher aspirations.
  • They have more social participation, Are more highly interconnected via interpersonal networks, and are more cosmopolite. They travel widely and are involved in matters beyond local boundaries. They have more contact with change agents, greater exposure to mass media, greater exposure to communications channels, seek new information more actively, and have a higher degree of opinion leadership.

Early Majority: Deliberate

  • They interact frequently with their peers but seldom hold positions of opinion leadership. They may deliberate for some time before completely adopting a new idea. They follow with deliberate willingness but seldom lead.

Late Majority: Skeptical

  • They approach innovations with a skeptical and cautious air. The weight of system norms must definitely favor an innovation before the late majority are convinced to adopt. Their relatively scarce resources mean that most of the uncertainty about a new idea must be removed before the late majority feel that it is safe to adopt.

Laggards: Traditional

  • They possess almost no opinion leadership. They are the most isolated of all categories. Many are near isolates in the social network. The point of reference for the laggard is the past. They tend to be suspicious of innovations and of change agents. Their resources may be limited and they must be certain that a new idea will not fail.
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