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

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to investigate if chronological age sparks negative expectancies thus initiating a self-fulfilling prophecy in technology training interactions.

Design/Methodology/Approach

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.

Findings

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.

Implications

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.

Originality/Value

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.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    One trainee and four trainers reported ages of 31 or older. This resulted in five dyads being removed. The manipulation check, which will be discussed in more detail, resulted in the deletion of nine dyads. Therefore, a total of 14 dyads were removed.

  2. 2.

    The data violated the assumption of normality and we therefore report Welch’s F; however, we note that the parametric analysis revealed the same conclusion.

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McCausland, T.C., King, E.B., Bartholomew, L. et al. The Technological Age: The Effects of Perceived Age in Technology Training. J Bus Psychol 30, 693–708 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9390-5

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Keywords

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