Motivation for using search engines: A two-factor model

Ling Ling Wu, Ya Lan Chuang, Pin Yuen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


From a user-centered perspective, an effective search engine needs to attract new users to try out its features, and retain those users so that they continue using the features. In this article, we investigate the relations between users' motivation for using (i.e., trying out and continuing to use) a search engine and the engine's functional features. Based on Herzberg's two-factor theory (F. Herzberg, 2003; F. Herzberg, M. Bernard, & B. Snyderman, 1959), the features can be categorized as hygiene factors and motivation factors. Hygiene factors support the query process and provide a basic "task context" for information seeking that allows users to access relevant information. Motivation factors, on the other hand, help users navigate (i.e., browse) and comprehend the retrieved information, related to the "task-content" aspect of information seeking. Given the consistent findings that hygiene factors induce work motivation for a shorter period of time, it is hypothesized that hygiene factors are more effective in attracting users; while motivation factors are more effective in retaining than in attracting users. A survey, with 758 valid participants, was conducted to test the hypotheses. The empirical results provide substantial support for the proposed hypotheses and suggest that the two-factor theory can account for the motivation for using a search engine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1829-1840
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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