Stress, attitudes and personality in computing in students (1990-1993)
The present work was concerned with the initial attitudes of users (students) towards computers, the relation of these attitudes to prior experience, stress, performance and the personality of the individual, and the extent to which changes come about as the result of experience gained from a type of computer course. The extent to which individuals found computing stressfull was investigated. Studies were conducted employing questionnaire methods to provide data, over a three year period, on three cohorts of students taking psychology practical sessions which had a computing component. The changes of attitude in relation to experience gained from a type of computer course, as well as the effects of prior experience on initial attitudes and attitude change were studied. The main hypothesis was that computing experience would improve attitude scores. It was found that subjects with the greatest prior computer experience did indeed have more positive initial attitudes. However, attitude scores decreased over the year, in that the higher the prior experience the more the decrease. Computer stress, the impact of computing experience on computer stress and performance, as well as their relation to computer attitude, were examined. There was only a transient effect of a computing session on experienced stress; subjects with greater prior experience and more positive attitudes towards computers had lower levels of stress before and after computer sessions. No effects of prior computer experience were found on computer performance. A series of multiple regressions indicated that the main attitudinal predictor of computer related stress was computer confidence, whereas the key predicting variable of anticipatory stress was computer anxiety. Computer attitudes, stress, performance, and prior experience were examined in relation to the personality variables of locus of control, extraversion, neuroticism, and A typology. Two measures of Locus of Control were used and correlations suggested that internals were likely to have more positive attitude, experience lower levels of stress and perform better than externals. Higher levels of neuroticism were associated with less favourable attitude and higher levels of stress - although not with performance. Higher extraversion was associated with lower levels of computer anxiety and anticipatory stress. Finally, higher Type A scores were found to be associated mainly with more positive attitude. A series of multiple regression models suggested that experience explains more variation in attitudes than locus of control. Another series of multiple regression models, using as independent variables attitude and personality variables together, suggested that it is mainly attitude (confidence and anxiety) that accounts for most of the variance in stress. Results were discussed in the context of relevant literature, and the relationships between attitude and different aspects of experience as well as between attitude and personality were emphasised.