Computer Attitude and Anxiety

Computer Attitude and Anxiety

Pieter Blignaut (University of the Free State, South Africa), Andries Burger (University of the Free State, South Africa), Theo McDonald (University of the Free State, South Africa) and Janse Tolmie (University of the Free State, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch105
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Computers in the workplace are a given. Although the advantages of computers are well-known and proven, many people still try to avoid using them. It is extremely important to find out which factors influence the success of end-user computing. What are the reasons that some people excel on a computer while others have problems and even build up a resistance toward the use of computers? This chapter provides a literature-based overview of computer attitude and computer anxiety as factors that influence a user’s resistance, commitment, and achievement. A graphic model, according to which the interactions between computer attitude and anxiety, their causes, indicators, and impacts may be understood, is proposed. It is put forth that external strategies to deal with anxiety and a negative attitude are imperative to break down a snowballing effect of cause and effect and to ensure effective end-user computing.
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Computer Attitude

Gordon Allport (1935) defined the concept of attitude, in general, as follows: “An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related” (p. 810). In other words, attitude is determined by experience and impacts upon the individual’s behavior.

A person’s attitude toward a computer is influenced by a variety of aspects, e.g., the social issues relating to computer use (Popovich et al., 1987), computer liking, computer confidence, computer anxiety or comfort (Delcourt & Kinzie, 1993; Loyd & Gressard, 1984a), achievement (Bandalos & Benson, 1990), usefulness, and value (Francis-Pelton & Pelton, 1996).

Computer Anxiety

According to Henderson et al. (1995) anxiety is viewed as “a drive that motivates the organism to avoid the stimulus for anxiety” (p. 24). This implies that an individual will avoid the use of a computer in the presence of computer anxiety and if possible.

Kaplan and Sadock (1998) referred to anxiety as “a diffuse, unpleasant, vague sense of apprehension, often accompanied by autonomic symptoms” (p. 581). Specifically, computer anxiety involves an array of emotional reactions, including fear, apprehension, uneasiness, and distrust of computer technology in general (Negron, 1995; Rohner & Simonson, 1981).

Computer anxiety is also influenced by a variety of aspects, e.g., general anxiety and confidence (Harrison & Rainer, 1992), computer liking (Chu & Spires, 1991; Loyd & Gressard, 1984b), impact of computers on society (Raub, 1981), equipment-related anxiety (Marcoulides, 1989), comfort and value (Violato et al., 1989), and corporate pressure.

The Relationship between Computer Attitude and Computer Anxiety

Computer anxiety is often included as a component of attitude (Delcourt & Kinzie, 1993; Loyd & Gressard, 1984a). Jawahar and Elango (2001) reported, however, that previous studies used the concepts of computer anxiety and negative attitudes toward computers interchangeably. Computer anxiety is, however, not solely responsible for a negative attitude. A person can have a negative attitude toward computers even though he or she is not overly anxious about using them. This may be because of a negative experience, e.g., an apologizing clerk blaming an erroneous account statement on the computer.

Furthermore, attitude allows for both a negative and a positive grading, whereas anxiety is, by definition, either negative or absent.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Computer Attitude: A complex mental state that affects a human’s choice of action or behavior toward computers and computer-related tasks.

This work was previously published in Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology: edited by M. Khosrow-Pour, pp. 495-501, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global)

Usefulness: The user is convinced that the use of computers in the workplace is an efficient and effective means to solve problems.

Computer Anxiety: A diffuse, unpleasant, and vague sense of discomfort and apprehension when confronted by computer technology or people who talk about computers.

Self-Efficacy: Measure of a person’s belief and confidence that he or she can perform a certain task.

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