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Age differences in reactions to errors in computer-based work

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The present study examined the reactions of older and younger workers to the situation of encountering an error during computer-based work. It was expected that older workers would have a stronger negative emotional reaction to such an error due to a combination of age-related factors. In both a questionnaire and an observational study among 134 office workers this was found to be the case. This age relationship remained after controlling for differences in computer experience, attitudes to new technology, education and the number of errors made by participants during a typical computer-based work session. More detailed analyses showed that in response to an error situation, older workers compared to younger ones stated they were significantly less likely to try and solve the problem entirely on their own; this was also partly supported by the observational data. In terms of the available options for helping rectify errors, older workers reported that they were more often likely to use written documentation and rely less on asking other workers. The implications of the findings are discussed in terms of interventions to ameliorate the impact of errors in computer-based work on an older workforce.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1997

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