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Technostress in the office: a distributed cognition perspective on human–technology interaction


Technology is a mobile and integral part of many work places, and computers and other information and communication technology have made many users’ work life easier, but technology can also contribute to problems in the cognitive work environment and, over time, create technostress. Much previous research on technostress has focused on the use of digital technology and its effects, measured by questionnaires, but in order to further examine how technostress arises in the modern workplace, a wider perspective on interactions between people and technology is needed. This paper applies a distributed cognition perspective to human–technology interaction, investigated through an observational field study. Distributed cognition focuses on the organisation of cognitive systems, and technostress in this perspective becomes an emergent phenomenon within a complex and dynamic socio-technical system. A well-established questionnaire was also used (for a limited sample), to gain a frame of reference for the results from the qualitative part of the study. The implications are that common questionnaire-based approaches very well can and should be complemented with a broader perspective to study causes of technostress. Based on the present study, a redefinition of technostress is also proposed.

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  1. 1.

    Paper is sometimes considered as technology, but we separate the two since previous research on technostress does not include paper in the concept of technology, and for clarity on their respective roles (for further discussion on technology and the related concepts of tools and artefacts, see Susi 2006).


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We would like to thank all the employees at the Office of Education, for participating in the study. The authors would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Charlott Sellberg.

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Sellberg, C., Susi, T. Technostress in the office: a distributed cognition perspective on human–technology interaction. Cogn Tech Work 16, 187–201 (2014).

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  • Technostress
  • Distributed cognition
  • Cognitive work environment
  • Information and communication technology (ICT)
  • Human–computer interaction