Investigating Expectation Violations in Mobile Apps

Sherlock A. Licorish, Helen E. Owen, Bastin Tony Roy Savarimuthu, Priyanka Patel

Information technology and software services are pervasive, occupying the centre of most aspects of contemporary societies. This has given rise to commonly expected norms and expectations around how such systems should work, appropriate penalties for violating these expectations, and more importantly, indicators of how to reduce the consequences of violations and sanctions. Evidence for expectation violations and ensuing sanctions exists in a range of portals used by individuals and groups to start new friendships, explore new ideas, and provide feedback for products and services. Therein lies insights that could lead to functional socio-technical systems, and general awareness and anticipations of human actions (and interactions) when using information technology and software services. However, limited previous work has examined such artifacts to provide these understandings. To contribute to such understandings and theoretical advancement we study expectation violations in mobile apps, considered among the most engaging socio-technical systems. We used content analysis and expectancy violation theory (EVT) and expectation confirmation theory (ECT) to explore the evidence and nature of sanctions in app reviews for a specific domain of apps. Our outcomes show that users respond to expectation violation with sanctions when their app does not work as anticipated, developers seem to target specific market niches when providing services in an app domain, and users within an app domain respond with similar sanctions. We contribute to the advancement of expectation violation theories, and we provide practical insights for the mobile app community.

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