Computer Anxiety: "Trait" or "State"?
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A recurring question in the study of computer anxiety is whether computer anxiety is a relatively stable personality trait or a mutable, temporary state. The two studies reported examined this question in two groups of first year psychology students. These students were requested to complete a computer anxiety test, a trait anxiety test, and a state anxiety test. Some groups were administered the tests in a pen and paper format, while others were tested using computerized tests. In the first study, a Dutch version of the Profile of Mood States (POMS) was used; in the second study, a Dutch adaptation of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. In both studies, computer anxiety turned out to be related more strongly to trait anxiety than to state anxiety. In fact, there was no relationship between computer anxiety and state anxiety in the pen and paper format. In the computerized versions however, computer anxiety and state anxiety were related, suggesting that state anxiety in situations involving a computer is caused by pre-existing computer anxiety.