Variables

 

Attitude

Attitude, whether positive or negative, and how it influences behavior, varies in its interpretation In general, however, it is regarded as a preparation or readiness for response. In the Allport study (cited in Fishbein), "An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting directive or dynamic influence upon an individual's response to all objects and situations with which it is related" (Allport,1967, p. 8). In the Thurstone study, attitude is defined as the "sum total of a man's inclinations and feelings, prejudice or bias, preconceived notions, ideas, fears, threats, and convictions about any specified topic" (Thurstone, 1967, p. 77). Thurston cautions that using opinion as an index of attitude carries some uncertainty with it and is modifiable depending on those situations in which expressing one's opinion frankly may not be well-received. The author further suggests that "a man's action is a safer index of his attitude than what he says" (Thurstone, 1967, p.78). Therefore, in determining attitude with an attitude scale or some other instrument intended to measure attitude towards computers, one should keep in mind (as Thurstone notes) that "the subject may be conciously hiding his true attitude or that the social pressure of the situation has made him really believe what he expresses" (Thurstone, 1967, p. 79).

Several instruments have been developed in order to measure attitude. One of these is the Computer Attitude Scale (CAS) used in both the Kluever and Massoud studies. The CAS measures attitudes toward learning about and using computers. It is divided into three subscales: computer anxiety, computer confidence and computer liking. Both the Kluever and Massoud studies found fairly positive attitudes towards computers, although, the Massoud study notes that "A difference in computer attitudes of males and females is shown to be statistically significant in this study , i.e., males had more positive attitudes than females" (Massoud, 1991, p. 261). A limition of studies on computer attitudes involves the nature of the sample taken. The Kluever study was comprised primarily of a rural grouping of teachers. "Participants were volunteers who probably had more positive attitudes at the beginning of the study than one would expect to find in a random sample of subjects" (Kluever, 1994, p. 260). In the Massoud study, participants were adult basic education students. In addition to whether or not subjects were volunteers, it is suggested that other factors such as age, gender, experience all need to be considered when examining attitudes towards computer use. In the Dyck study using the CAS, older adults (55 years and over) were compared to younger adults (30 and under) and they discovered that for both younger and older adults, a more positive attitude towards computers was associated with higher levels of computer experience. Dyck notes that "the influence of computer experience may explain the mixed results of prior work, and that future studies examining computer anxiety and attitudes need to take computer experience into account" (Dyck, 1994, p. 246). Two other rating scales measuring computer anxiety and attitudes are the “Computer Anxiety Rating scale (CARS) found at: http://www.payson.tulane.edu/research/Instruments/CARS.htm and the Raub scale quoted in Ray & Minch 1990: http://www.robinbt2.free-online.co.uk/virtualclassroom/chap3/companx/questanx2.htm

Attitudes, whether positive or negative may be affected by experience. Attitudes may also be vital to successful experiences with computers as well as to the implementation and use of new technologies in education, business or other areas of society and communication.