Published on in Vol 25 (2023)

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Authors’ Reply: “The Problem of Investigating Causal Relationships Between Cognitive and Evaluative Variables”

Authors’ Reply: “The Problem of Investigating Causal Relationships Between Cognitive and Evaluative Variables”

Authors’ Reply: “The Problem of Investigating Causal Relationships Between Cognitive and Evaluative Variables”

Authors of this article:

Bernhard Guetz1, 2 Author Orcid Image ;   Sonja Bidmon2 Author Orcid Image

Letter to the Editor

1Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach & Klagenfurt, Austria

2Department of Marketing and International Management, Alpen-Adria-Universitaet Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria

*all authors contributed equally

Corresponding Author:

Bernhard Guetz, PhD

Carinthia University of Applied Sciences

Europastraße 4

Villach & Klagenfurt, 9524


Phone: 43 5905002453


We appreciate the comments made by Konerding [1] and are thankful for the opportunity to take part in this research dialogue. As described in detail in our paper [2], the fact that social influence has an impact on the behavioral intention to use a technology has been postulated in numerous theories (eg, [3]), with the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) [4] being the most prominent one. This relationship has been tested and proven in many empirical studies (eg, [5,6]), usually by the application of a cross-sectional study design [7]. Thus, we applied this methodology to our research domain in line with the UTAUT research stream.

We are aware of the ongoing methodological debate about whether cross-sectional data are appropriate to test causal relations between variables. However, the application of a wide range of techniques for data collection and analysis has been the subject of continuing controversy in research for a long time [8,9]. In the past 3 years, the Journal of Medical Internet Research has published several studies applying a similar methodology to the one we have chosen (ie, creating a mediational model and testing it with cross-sectional data; eg, [10,11]). As Spector [8] notes, there is perhaps no research design that has been more used, albeit more maligned, than the cross-sectional design. He underlines, however, that the longitudinal design’s ability to reflect causality has been overstated and is not advantageous as compared to the cross-sectional design in most cases of use.

As Konerding [1] states, causal relationships between cognitive and evaluative variables are very difficult to investigate. However, we tried to resolve this challenge by manipulating the independent variable. Thus, we even went a step further than other studies [10,11] by applying a mixed methods approach including an experimental setting. Although variables such as the credibility of online portals probably cannot be manipulated meaningfully, other methods such as the think-aloud method, eye-tracking, or neuroscientific methods could be considered for related research projects in the future.

In his concluding sentence, Konerding [1] suggests giving adequate consideration to methodological limitations when interpreting results. In this context, we agree but also note that all possible limitations referring to the methodology used in our research endeavor have been addressed within the published paper. Additionally, Konerding [1] misstates the direction of influence in the proposed influencing paths (see the end of the second paragraph).

Last, we do not agree that the study by Maddux and Rogers [12] can be interpreted as a best practice example suitable for our research domain. We appreciate the authors’ theoretical contribution and merit but think that a sample size of 153 undergraduate students can be criticized regarding the weak representativeness and an increased probability of bias such as nonresponse [7,13]. Additionally, concerns about the inappropriate reliance on undergraduates have been raised since 1975 [14].

Taken together, we think that methodological discussions can be fruitful in general as long as they facilitate new ways of thinking.

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

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  10. Roberts J, David M. Improving predictions of COVID-19 preventive behavior: development of a sequential mediation model. J Med Internet Res. Mar 17, 2021;23(3):e23218. [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]
  11. Kerr B, D'Angelo JD, Diaz-Caballero A, Moreno MA. College student problematic internet use and digital communication medium used with parents: cross-sectional study. JMIR Pediatr Parent. May 23, 2020;3(1):e17165. [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]
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UTAUT: Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology

Edited by T Leung; This is a non–peer-reviewed article. submitted 18.09.23; accepted 27.10.23; published 22.11.23.


©Bernhard Guetz, Sonja Bidmon. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 22.11.2023.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.