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What can people risk attitude tell us about people preference for multimedia quality?

Andreea Molnar (Department of Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Cristina Hava Muntean (School of Computing, National College of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 1 June 2015




Multimedia content that is accessible through mobile devices has a larger size than other types of content (e.g. text, images). This may lead to higher prices for accessing the content via mobile devices, as mobile operators are capping mobile data billing plans in an effort to increase their revenues and prevent congestion. This poses problems for the users that are not willing/do not afford to pay the required price but still want to use multimedia content through the mobile networks. A price reduction for the user, as well as minimising bandwidth consumption can be obtained as a trade-off in multimedia quality. However, as previous research shows, not all people are willing to trade-off quality for a lower price; therefore, there is no straightforward approach to this problem. In this context, the purpose of this paper is to present a model of user willingness to pay for multimedia content quality as a function of the user risk attitude with the aim to provide personalised content depending on the user willingness to trade-off price for multimedia content quality.


A user model was proposed based on a literature review and an existing data set. A stereotypical approach was used where users are divided in two groups: risk averse and risk seekers. An experimental study involving six scenarios was used to validate the findings.


The results of the evaluation show that for the proposed user risk model, risk seekers preferred to pay for multimedia quality, whereas risk adverse users preferred to switch to a lower multimedia quality when monetary cost is involved. However, when the mobile data billing plan had the bandwidth limited, rather than a higher price to be paid when the bundle quantity was exceeded, the risk averse people’s preference for a lower quality still holds, but it does not show that most of the risk seekers prefer to pay for the multimedia quality.

Research limitations/implications

This paper adds to the state of the art by providing a novel way to model the user preferences for multimedia quality based on their attitude towards risk, age, and gender.

Practical implications

Mobile data users, content providers (application service providers, over-the-top providers), mobile network operators (MNOs) and internet service providers (ISPs) could benefit from the results of this research. For mobile data users, the outcome of this research could be beneficial, as they can obtain personalised content based on their needs. From the content providers’ point of view, providing personalised content can lead to more satisfied users. It could also reduce the bandwidth consumption and the traffic to the server and/or proxy. Reducing the bandwidth consumption could lead to the possibility to acquire more customers and hence increase the revenues.


This is among the first studies to assess how the user preference towards multimedia quality if affected by the user attitude towards risk.



This work was supported by Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.


Molnar, A. and Hava Muntean, C. (2015), "What can people risk attitude tell us about people preference for multimedia quality?", Information Technology & People, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 383-404.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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