Age differences in the performance of hypertext perusal as a function of text topology
The present study examined the extent to which age had impacts on the performance of hypertext browsing and navigation as a function of text topology. Twenty senior adults and 20 younger adults (mean ages = 68.95 and 23.60 respectively) participated in an experiment where three levels of text linearity were manipulated. Results showed the older adult accessed fewer numbers of text nodes than the younger counterpart, which suggests that the aged appear at a disadvantage in browsing breadth. The older adult's less oriented browsing was evidenced by the larger number of nodes repeatedly visited, particularly when the network topology was perused. As for navigation, older people experienced greater disorientation given that they searched more links to locate the target node. This age difference was mainly derived from the disorientation occurring at the hybrid and network levels, with the hybrid condition resulting in the severest navigation confusion due to its mixed text structure. Implications for the design of hypertext that accommodates the age differences are discussed.