The Technological Age: The Effects of Perceived Age in Technology Training
The purpose of this study was to investigate if chronological age sparks negative expectancies thus initiating a self-fulfilling prophecy in technology training interactions.
Data were obtained from undergraduate students (age ≤ 30) paired in 85 trainer–trainee dyads and examined through the actor-partner interdependence model. Trainer and trainee age (younger or older) were manipulated in this laboratory experiment by presenting pre-selected photographs coupled with voice enhancing software.
As compared to younger trainees, ostensibly older trainees evoked negative expectancies when training for a technological task, which ultimately manifested in poorer training interactions and trainer evaluations of trainee performance.
Identifying a connection between chronological age and negative expectancies in technology training advances our theoretical understanding of sources contributing to older trainees’ poorer performance in workforce training programs. This study provides evidence of a negative relationship between trainees’ chronological age and trainers’ expectations for trainee success and subsequent training evaluations. Such knowledge offers initial support for a “train-the-trainer” intervention through educating trainers on the potential dangers of age-based stereotypes, which could help to reduce age-based performance discrepancies.
This is the first study to manipulate age during training thus isolating the influence of age-based stereotypes on training experiences. Given that potential age-related performance decrements in capability and motivation can be eliminated as explanations, this evidence of poorer interactions and outcomes for older workers is critical.
KeywordsAge stereotypes Expectancy effects Performance evaluation Bias Distributed learning environment Self-fulfilling prophecy Actor-partner interdependence model
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29, U.S.C. § 621.Google Scholar
- Allen, T., Finkelstein, L., Kanfer, R., Müller, A., Weigl, M., van Vuuren, T., van der Heijden, B., et al. (2012). Understanding and building strength through differences (White paper). University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy: European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) Small Group Meeting (SGM) on Age Cohorts in the Workplace. Retrieved, from http://www.eawop.org/ckeditor_assets/attachments/134/age_small_group_meeting_white_paper_14_march_2012.pdf?1336095725
- Arias, E. (2012). United States Life Tables, 2008. National Vital Statistics Report, 61, pp. 1–63. Retrieved, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_03.pdf
- Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2010). Social psychology (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Biesanz, J. C., Neuberg, S. L., Smith, D. M., Asher, T., & Judice, T. N. (2001). When accuracy-motivated perceiver fail: Limited attentional resources and the reemerging self-fulfilling prophecy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 621–629. doi: 10.1177/0146167201275010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bond, T., Thompson, C. T., Galinsky, E., & Prottas, D. (2002). The 2002 national study of the changing workforce: Executive summary. New York: Families and Work Institute.Google Scholar
- Butler, R. (1975). Why survive? Being old in America. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
- Cuddy, A. J., & Fiske, S. T. (2002). Doddering but dear: Process, content, and function in stereotyping of older persons. In T. D. Nelson (Ed.), Ageism: Stereotyping and prejudice against older people (pp. 3–26). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Czaja, S. J., Charness, N., Fisk, A. D., Hertzog, C., Nair, S. N., Rogers, W. A., & Sharit, J. (2006). Factors predicting the use of technology: Findings from the center for research and education on aging and technology enhancement (CREATE). Psychology and Aging, 21, 333–352. doi: 10.1037/0882-79220.127.116.113.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 878–902. doi: 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1688.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fiske, S. T., & Neuberg, S. L. (1990). A continuum of impression-formation, from category-based to individuating processes: Influences of information and motivation on attention and interpretation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 23, 1–74. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60317-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gagné, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W. W. (1992). Principles of instructional design. New York: Holt, Rimehart and Winston.Google Scholar
- Harris, L. (1975). The myth and reality of aging in America. Washington: National Council on the Aging.Google Scholar
- Jelen, B. (2009). Excel VBA and macros with MrExcel live lessons [Computer software]. USA: Que Publishing.Google Scholar
- Kashy, D. A., & Kenny, D. A. (2000). The analysis of data from dyads and groups. In H. T. Reis & C. M. Judd (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in social psychology (pp. 451–477). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., & Cook, W. L. (2006). Dyadic data analysis. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Landy, F. J., Shankster-Cawley, L. S., & Moran, S. K. (1995). Advancing personnel selection and placement methods. In A. Howard (Ed.), The changing nature of work (pp. 67–86). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
- Madden, M., & Jones, S. (2008, September 24). Networked workers. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2008/PIP_Networked_WorkersFINAL.pdf.pdf
- Maurer, T. J., Weiss, E. M., & Barbeite, F. (2003). A model of involvement in work-related learning and development activity: The effects of individual, situational, motivational, and age variables. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 707–724. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.4.707.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- MorphVOX Pro [Computer software]. Palm Coast, FL: Screaming Bee Inc.Google Scholar
- Neuberg, S. L. (1994). Expectancy-confirmation processes in stereotype-tinged social encounters: The moderating role of social goals. In M. P. Zanna & J. M. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of prejudice: The Ontario symposium on personality and social psychology (Vol. 7, pp. 103–130). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Olson, J. M., Roese, N. J., & Zanna M. P. (1996). Expectancies. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 211–238). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Penn State (2008a). Excel basics. Retrieved from http://www.ecs.psu.edu/training/Quizzes/Excel/ExcelBasics1.htm
- Penn State (2008b). Excel macros. Retrieved from http://www.ecs.psu.edu/training/Quizzes/Excel/ExcelMacros.htm
- Pitt-Catsouphes, M., Matz-Costa, C., & Brown, M. (2010). The prism of age: Managing age diversity at the 21st century workplace. In S. Tyson & E. Parry (Eds.), Managing an age diverse workforce (pp. 80–94). London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom: Teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
- Shore, L. M., & Goldberg, C. B. (2004). Age discrimination in the work place. In R. L. Dipboye & A. Colella (Eds.), The psychological and organizational bases of discrimination at work. Frontier Series: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.Google Scholar
- Snyder, M., Tanke, E. D., & Berscheid, E. (1977). Social perception and interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 656–666.Google Scholar
- Stahl, A. (2010, September 2010). What’s a macro and why should you care [Blog]. Retrieved, from http://blogs.office.com/b/crabby_office_lady/archive/2010/09/28/macros.aspx
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2008). Overview of the 2008-18 projections. Retrieved, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2003.htm#Labor%20Force