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