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Adding Motivational Elements to an Instruction Manual for Seniors: Effects on Usability and Motivation

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We designed three versions of an instruction manual for a cellular telephone, using strategies that aim to increase the cellular telephone’s usability and senior’s motivation to use this telephone. The strategies focused on 1) gaining and maintaining users’ attention, 2) increasing their sense of relevance concerning the instructions, and 3) increasing users’ confidence, respectively. We asked seniors between 60 and 70 years of age to work with either one of these motivational manuals or with a control version without motivational elements. Our study shows no statistically significant differences for participants’ satisfaction with the instruction manual or with the cellular telephone, or for their self-reported motivation scores. However, participants using either the relevance or the confidence enhancing version of the instruction manual did perform more tasks correctly than participants using the control version. Moreover, participants using the confidence enhancing version less often gave up working on tasks than participants in the control group.

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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