Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 693–708 | Cite as

The Technological Age: The Effects of Perceived Age in Technology Training

  • Tracy C. McCauslandEmail author
  • Eden B. King
  • Lindsey Bartholomew
  • Rachel Feyre
  • Afra Ahmad
  • Lisa M. Finkelstein
Original Paper



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.


Age stereotypes Expectancy effects Performance evaluation Bias Distributed learning environment Self-fulfilling prophecy Actor-partner interdependence model 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy C. McCausland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eden B. King
    • 1
  • Lindsey Bartholomew
    • 1
  • Rachel Feyre
    • 1
  • Afra Ahmad
    • 1
  • Lisa M. Finkelstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNorthern Illinois UniversityDekalbUSA

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