Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Social Importance of Diffusion

The diffusion of Innovations theory by Everett Rogers (2004) attempts to study the process by which innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system (p. 13). Roger’s theory includes four key components: innovation, communication channels, time, and social system. I am a proponent of this theory due to its reliance on communication channels and social systems.

Atul Gawande also researched why certain innovations were adopted at different rates, although Gawande focused primarily on communication and social relationships as a tool to introduce and encourage adoption of innovations (2013). For example, although antiseptic and anesthesia were introduced to the medical field in a similar manner, anesthesia was accepted much more readily than antiseptic. Gawande noticed that while both of these discoveries made life better for patients, only one made life better for doctors (p. 5).

After delving into case studies, Gawande concluded that to create new norms or to adopt innovations, innovators first must understand user’s existing norms and barriers to change. Once users are understood by the innovators, the innovators must use human interaction through means of communication and social relationships as a way to overcome resistance and to speed the adoption of innovations (p. 13).

Since I am an advocate for the importance of the communicative and social aspects of adopting innovations, I am inclined to agree with Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations theory. For example, in Gawande’s case study regarding birthing practices in a developing country, Gawande found that although nurses had knowledge to perform birthing practices correctly, they still were choosing to not adopt those practices. An outside worker hoped to assist nurses in adopting these correct birthing practices, or innovations, by joining their social system. The birthing nurses only adopted correct birthing practices after much communication and the emergence of a social relationship between the outside worker and the birthing nurses (p. 12). This example demonstrates the importance of Roger’s communication channel and social system components of the diffusion of innovations theory.

Reference List Gawande, A. (2013). Slow Ideas. Annals of Medicine, 1-23. Print. Rogers, E. M. (2004). A Prospective and Retrospective Look at the Diffusion Model. Journal of Health Communication, 9, 13-19.