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Technology is ubiquitous in our occupational, educational and leisure lives. A fear of interacting with technology can therefore have a major impact on the quality of an individual’s life. This is particularly salient within education as an inability to maximise the benefits of technology may limit academic achievement and subsequent opportunities in life. The severity of the anxiety induced by technology has lead to a plethora of research into the prevalence of ‘technophobia’. This term may have clinical relevance and has been found to be comparable in severity to more traditional phobias [Thorpe, S. J. & Brosnan, M. (in press). Does computer anxiety reach levels which conform to DSM IV criteria for specific phobia? Computers in Human Behavior]. This paper presents two studies examining the effect of clinically-derived treatments upon levels of anxiety induced by technology. Study 1 was a 10-week selective desensitisation programme with 16 participants (eight computer anxious, eight non-anxious). Over this period computer anxiety and coping cognitions were significantly improved in the computer anxious group and become comparable to those of the matched non-anxious controls. Study 2 was a single treatment session for anxiety. Thirty individuals identified as anxious were assigned to either a one-session treatment (n = 9) or non-treatment (n = 21) group. Initially, both groups were significantly more anxious than the non-anxious control group (n = 59). Subsequent testing established that over the period of an academic year the reduction in anxiety was three times greater in the treated group than the non-treated group such that by the end of the year the treated group no longer differed from the control group, whereas the non-treated group remained significantly more anxious. The implications and limitations of the studies are discussed.
Author(s): Brosnan MJ, Thorpe SJ
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Computers in Human Behavior
ISSN (print): 0747-5632
ISSN (electronic): 1873-7692
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