Adoption of microwave ovens among a sample of older adults in Blacksburg, Virginia
Nagarajan, Anandi III
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The purpose of this study was to identify the extent of adoption of microwave ovens by older adults in Blacksburg, Virginia. Level of adoption was defined and determined as a function of 1) frequency of use of the microwave oven in comparison to the range, and 2) complexity of food preparation. Mere ownership was not considered as an indicator of adoption. Focusing on the final stage of Rogers theory of adoption (1962), three levels of adoption were determined: High, medium, and low. A random sample of 75 adults 65 years and older was selected from the listing of retired personnel in the 1997-98 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University faculty and staff directory. Telephone interviews were conducted to collect information regarding current microwave oven usage patterns and decisions for future use and purchase. Relationships between level of adoption, and user characteristics and microwave oven characteristics were statistically tested. Results from the study indicate that 56% of these older adults who own a microwave oven are high adopters; i.e. they used the microwave more than the range and performed high complexity tasks. About 52% reported using the microwave oven more frequently than the range. Nearly all respondents were satisfied with the microwave oven in terms of speed and convenience, while 60% were satisfied with quality of foods cooked in the microwave oven. There was no significant difference in level of adoption with age, gender, health condition, and knowledge of microwave oven use. However, level of adoption was significantly higher among older adults who were "never" married or "previously" married compared to those that were "currently" married. Also, level of adoption was significantly lower among those older adults who had touch controls on their microwave oven compared to those with rotary dials. Other significant results of this study dealt with future use and purchase decisions. About 93% of the respondents indicated a desire to continue using a microwave oven in the future and about 76% indicated that they would purchase one in the future if their current microwave oven "dies." Results from this study have implications for appliance manufacturers who can increase sales by targeting this group, researchers in household equipment who can study adoption of other innovative appliances, and developers of retirement communities who might consider providing a microwave oven for use by residents or provide a space where one can be placed.
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