Loughborough University
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An investigation of cognitive factors relating to the way people respond to the use of computers

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posted on 2010-11-26, 11:43 authored by David Poulson
The research is primarily concerned with the investigation of factors relating to the way that naive computer users build up their internal representations or cognitive models of the computer systems they use. Particular emphasis is placed on investigating the roles of aptitudes, attitudes and personality in the development of such models. The research also became directed towards investigating Lhe implications of advanced technology for use by members of the general public. The research is split up into the following studies: 1) A study of naive computer users investigating the way in which they responded to a simulated rail information system, in comparison with their response to its manual counterpart. The problem solving heuristics used by the subjects were investigated as well as the ways that computers were perceived in relation to other objects. 2) Two studies were carried out to investigate the roles of attitudes and aptitudes for success in an introductory computing course in the BASIC language. 3) The progress of one student undergoing the computing course was investigated closely with a view to finding out how the learning process was taking place. 4) A field study was performed in a Regional Electricity Board with the aim of identifying the attitudes towards computers of non-expert users. The questionnaire survey technique used was also intended to identify the sources of difficulty that users of computers reported and to define the information sources available to them. 5) A study was performed looking at students who had performed well on an introductory computing course and others who had performed poorly. Differences in attitude and personality between these two gruups werc investigated with particular reference to a hypothesised 'machine-oriented' personality type. 6) A final questionnaire survey was performed looking at attitudes towards machinery, computers in general and more specifically the use of automated cash-dispensers of the type used in banks. From all these studies the theoretical basis of the 'machine-orientated' personality type was developed. The implications of these issues for interface design is discussed, along with recommendations for future research in this area.



© D.F. Poulson

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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