The WEAR Scale:
Development of a measure of the social acceptability of a wearable device


The factors affecting the social acceptability of wearable devices are poorly understood, yet they have a strong influence on whether a new wearable succeeds or fails. Because consumer wearable devices are a recently expanding and distinct form of technology, the literature is limited and existing measures of technology acceptance are insufficient. Factors uniquely affecting wearable devices, as compared to technologies not worn on the body, include manners, moral codes, the symbolic communication of dress, habits of dress, fashion, context of use, form, and aesthetics. Therefore, a new measure must be developed to understand the factors affecting the social acceptability of wearable devices and to predict acceptance.

The objective of this research was to use established scale development methodology to develop the WEAR (WEarable Acceptability Range) Scale, a measure of wearable acceptability that can be used with regard to any wearable device. The first step was to determine what is being measured by defining the construct “social acceptability of a wearable” using the literature and interviews of the intended population (Study 1). Next, the WEAR Scale’s initial item pool was composed, then reviewed by experts in Study 2. The resulting scale was administered to sample respondents along with similar scales and items for validation purposes. In Study 3, 221 participants responded to the items in response to a Bluetooth Headset. In Study 4, 306 participants responded to the items in response to Apple Watch and Google Glass.

Factor analysis of Study 3 and Study 4 data resulted in a two-factor, fourteen item solution (WEAR v.3) that was consistent among the three datasets. WEAR v.3 demonstrated good reliability across the three datasets, with alpha ranging from 0.79 to 0.88, and split-half reliability ranging from 0.81 to 0.88. Construct validity was demonstrated by significant correlations between the WEAR Scale and related constructs such as affinity for technology, likeableness ratings, and adoption of technology. The methodical and thorough development process provides a strong argument for content validity. The resulting WEAR Scale identifies two unique dimensions of wearable social acceptability, providing surprising and valuable information for many uses by both academia and industry, including predictive modeling, theory-building, and wearable development and applications.