Skip to Main Content
Researchers have found computer self-efficacy (CSE) to be important to technology adoption. Past research has treated CSE as a unitary concept. This paper proposes that CSE has two dimensions-internal and external. The idea that CSE has internal and external dimensions is based on attribution theory, which identifies the human tendency to attribute events to causes that are either internal or external to the self. The internal CSE dimension focuses on how individuals perceive their capacity to use computers independently (i.e., without help). The external CSE dimension focuses on how individuals perceive their ability to use computers with human assistance and other forms of external support. Using items drawn from the Compeau and Higginspsila CSE instrument, this paper examines each dimension's relationship to computer anxiety and perceived ease-of-use of information technology. The paper also reports on six studies that examine this proposal, and contributes to the literature by identifying two distinct CSE dimensions, developing theory-driven explanations for their relationships to constructs within the CSE's nomological network, and empirically establishing that they have distinct effects. Implications for research and practice are presented.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2008