HCI: Resistance and Disadvantages


Contributed by Sarah Davis

Some terms to know

Technophobia– Computer phobia or technophobia is a complex interplay of behavioural [sic], emotional and attitudinal components. (D. Gilbert, Lee-Kelley, Barton, 2003)

Library Anxiety– Bostick (1992)- Users relationships to the library in regards to:

Barriers with staff

      Affective barriers

      Comfort with the library

      Knowledge of the library

      Mechanical barriers

Computer Anxiety-resistance to using computers or technology.

Technostress– the utilization of technology increasing in the work environment causes stress on the end-user. “(Brod, 1984) a modern disease of adaptation cased by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner….- manifested in a struggle to accept computer technology or overidentifiation with computer technology.”

Neo-Luddism– is a modern movement of opposition to specific or general technological development. Few people describe themselves as neo-Luddites (though it is common, certainly in the UK, for people to self-deprecatingly describe themselves as Luddites if they dislike or have difficulty using modern technology); the term “neo-Luddite” is most often deployed by advocates of technology to describe persons or organizations that resist technological advances.


Keyboarding skills do not reduce computer anxiety. (Hemby, 1999)

Things that influence computer anxiety

(CA) (Chien, 2008)

1. Computer experience- the more you play with a computer the less stressful it is for you.

2. Gender- Female have stronger negative attitudes towards computers and thus more computer anxiety.

3. Age-broadly the older you are the more likely you are to have CA.

4. Personality traits- no conclusive studies have been done

5. Math anxiety- there is some disagreement between researchers if this has any correlation to CA.

6. Social-Economic background- the more money you have the less CA.

7. Cross-cultural comparison- not enough research to support relationships between culture and CA although, each culture has a different approach to technology.


Technostress– an example is the library change from card catalogue to computer databases and indexes many clients didn’t know how to use the new databases, experienced anxiety by not being able to access the information and disliked the increased dependence on the librarian. (Sami, 2006)

Levels of Technostress:

1) Anxious technophobe: exhibits the classic signs of an anxiety reaction when using technology: sweaty palms, hearth palpitations, headaches.

2) Cognitive technophobe: on the surface is calm and relaxed, but internally seethes with negative messages: “Everyone but me know how to do this!” or “I’ll hit the wrong button and mess this machine up!”

3) Uncomfortable user: may be slightly anxious or use some negative statements, but generally not in need of one-on-one counseling (Rosen, et al., 1987 as quoted in Sami, 2006)

How to minimize the amount of stress

Copied from (Sami, 2006, Technostress)

Bohlin (1995) suggests the following for ensuring a successful training of subjects: ‘‘In order to stimulate the learners’ interest in working with computers, the instruction should address the following:

  • Promote enthusiasm about computers. Enthusiasm can be contagious. An enthusiastic instructor can help promote positive feelings and make learning more enjoyable.
  • Provide information that captures the interest and attention of the learner.
  • Personal anecdotes about people in the field of computing or sharing personal stories about learning computers can make learning less sterile and more engaging.
  • Make the subject matter seem important. Helping teachers see the importance of learning about computers for their students can make a great difference in motivating them.
  • Make learners feel curious about the subject matter. Asking interesting and stimulating questions can make learners curious. Using metaphors and analogies can also facilitate learning as well as taking advantage of curiosity.
  • Show the learners how the material they learn will be useful to them. This will help the intrinsic motivation of the learners and provide ideas about how to apply the knowledge and skills from the course.
  • Make sure that the difficulty level stretches the learners but does not create too much stress. Challenging work is more likely to be perceived as relevant, but only if it does not raise anxiety levels too high.
  • Provide small, easily managed sections with frequent opportunities for hands on practice to reduce dependence upon memory and improve expectation of success. Designing success into the instruction, especially early success, reduces fear of failing with computers and diminishes computer anxiety.
  • Provide early experiences that are in low risk situations. Begin with a very low risk learning environment and gradually, as learners gain confidence, provide opportunities to take some risks under progressively more independent conditions.’’
  • These principles, if incorporated in a good training programme, should help achieve the objective of minimising technostress/computer anxiety/computer avoidance.Though the strategies mentioned are general in nature (i.e. they would help minimise computer related problems in almost all types of contexts), these strategies are equally relevant to libraries and their users.

The benefits are threefold:

1. Users getting adjusted (i.e. accepting) to computerisation of libraries, would help them use the library facilities better.

2. The workload and stress on the librarians (specially the reference librarian) owing to users (not adjusted to the computer facilities) seeking help and assistance would be minimised.

3. Library staff would also be able to provide better service by having adjusted to the computerisation of libraries and would be able to provide better support to users by having mastered the advantages of computer offered facilities.

Resistant behaviors

(Ranters, 1989)

1. Aggressive behavior expressed as an attack toward the computer;

2. Protective behavior where employees blame coputer for mistakes; and

3. Avoidance behavior when employees continue as if the computer did not exist.



The Disadvantages of Owning A Computer

1: Kitty-cat now has several new cords to play with.

2: Each new piece of hardware or software somehow interferes with EVERY other currently setup hardware or software – forcing you to spend days on that “will take 1/2 hour to install” upgrade.

3: This fabulous new program that you just bought takes up 20Meg of hard-drive space.  The product is always packaged on 360K floppy disks, uncompressed – all 60 of them!!

4: Disk #59 of the above -always- has a problem and aborts the entire installation process….

5: You learn how unreliable the electric company really is just before you save your 15-page document.

6: You’ve found you have purchased something that takes more of your money than the grocery bills….

7: ….this is offset by the fact you spend all of your time in the “computer room” now – so you never eat anymore anyway.

8: The most exercise you get anymore is flipping through the new computer catalog or for a visit the local software outlets.

9: The electric company starts sending you ‘awards’ for making the “top 10 fastest moving meter needles” list….

10: …the phone company does also soon after you buy a modem.

11: A month after buying that new “state of the art” system, you see an advertisement for one that costs less and does more!

12: That “state of the art” system can’t balance your checking account to agree with the bank’s statement.

13: You begin to wonder why you didn’t just buy a Nintendo like all of the other people in the neighborhood….

14: All that happens when you drop-kick the computer across the room in disgust is you hurt your foot.  You wind up in the hospital where you don’t have access to the system and for about three hours (only) you are happy about it….

15: The people at work avoid you and you hear rumors about, “that person who ‘points and clicks the mouse'”.

16: The few people at work who -don’t- avoid you, consider you to be a “computer genius” and want you to advise them how to solve all of their computers problems and/or go to their house and do it for FREE.

17: You realize that all of the computer programmers have rigged the games which you’ve bought to always let the COMPUTER win.

18: Your spouse, kids, pets, etc. -ALWAYS- know right where to find you if they need you…..

19: …so you end up buying a Nintendo anyway, to give THEM something to do so they will leave you alone!

20: Before long, you find your spouse, kids, pets, etc. have now abandoned the Nintendo and have taken over the computer.  You no longer get to be in the “computer room”, but have decided it’s not so bad playing Nintendo!  The only bad part is when the spouse, kids, pets, etc. get tired of the computer (in about a week), you’ll lose the use of the Nintendo and have to go back to using the computer!

Retrieved from http://www.crosswalk.com/fun/computers-internet/1357972/



  • Brown, A. G., Weingart, S., Johnson, J. R. J., Dance, B., (2004) Librarians don’t bite: assessing library orientation for freshmen. Reference Services Review. Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 394-403. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from the Emerald database.
  • Chien, T. (2008) Factors Influencing Computer Anxiety and Its Impact on E-Learning Effectiveness: A Review of Literature.
  • Gilbert, D., Lee-Kelley, L., Barton, M. (2003) Technophobia, gender influences and consumer decision-making for technology-related products. European Journal of Innovation Management. Vol.6, No. 4, pp.253-263. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from the Emerald database.
  • Hemby, V. K., (1999) The Impact of Keyboarding Sill on Computer Anxiety in End Users. Office Systems Research Journal. Vol. 17, No. 1,

Sorry I don’t have any further APA reference for this source.

  • Sami, L. K. and Pangannaiah, N. B. (2006) “Technostress” A literature survey on the effect of information technology on library users. Library Review. Vol. 55, No. 7, pp.429-439. Retrieved November 4, 2008 from Emerald database.


Other useful resources:

  • Henry, J. W. (1994) Resistance to Computer-based Technology in the Workplace. Executive Development.  Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 20-23. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Computer database.





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