The gray divide: a stage theory analysis of technology adoption by older adults

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University of Alabama Libraries

As governments and the private sector move more toward online communications and processes, a new, age related divide has emerged, a gray digital divide (McMurtrey, Zeltman & Griffin, 2012). The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify and analyze older adults respective stages of motivational change related to technology adoption. The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) constructs (i.e., stages of change, decisional balance pros and cons, and perceived computer self-efficacy) and general self-efficacy were assessed to determine if an older adult’s perceived self-efficacy was the reason for not adopting technology or if non-adoption was related to perceived benefits (pros and cons) of technology, and how these measures aligned within the stages of behavior change. Specifically, do these factors predict stage of technology adoption in older adults? Additionally, the researcher wanted to determine what variables explained most of the variance of stage to adopt technology. Furthermore, the researcher sought to determine if the TTM health behavior model can be applied to older adults and technology adoption. The study conducted in West and Central Alabama included 272 older adult volunteers. Using the decisional balance (pros and cons) and perceived self-efficacy measures (computer and general) it was found that participants exhibited differences between those who had or had not adopted technology. Both the perceived decisional balance pros and cons and computer self-efficacy were good predictors of stage of technology adoption. Pros were a more robust predictor of technology adoption than cons in the decisional balance construct of the TTM. Perceptions of computer self-efficacy were a far more robust predictor than general self-efficacy. Individuals either fully engaged with technology for some time or did not engage. An important finding of this study was the TTM overall subsumed demographic variables. Results of the study have implications that suggest when constructing interventions, PSAs or training that enhance pros of adoption and enhancing perceptions of computer self-efficacy would be the most parsimonious approach to motivate older adults individually to action to become more technologically engaged.

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Educational technology, Behavioral psychology