Too old for technology? Stereotype threat and technology use by older adults

João Mariano, Sibila Marques, Miguel R. Ramos, Filomena Gerardo, Cátia Lage Da Cunha, Andrey Girenko, Jan Alexandersson, Bernard Stree, Michele Lamanna, Maurizio Lorenzatto, Louise Pierrel Mikkelsen, Uffe Bundgård-jørgensen, Sílvia Rêgo, Hein De Vries

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Older adults are often stereotyped as having less technological ability than younger age groups. As a result, older individuals may avoid using technology due to stereotype threat, the fear of confirming negative stereotypes about their social group. The present research examined the role of stereotype threat within the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). Across two studies, experiencing stereotype threat in the technological domain was indirectly associated with lower levels of technology use among older adults. This was found for subjective (Study 1) and objective measures (Study 2) of use behaviour, and for technology use in general (Study 1) and computer use in particular (Study 2). In line with the predictions of the Technology Acceptance Model, this relationship was mediated by anxiety, perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and behavioural intention. Specifically, stereotype threat was negatively associated with perceived ease of use (Studies 1 and 2) and anxiety mediated this relationship (Study 2). These findings suggest that older adults underuse technology due to the threat of confirming ageist stereotypes targeting their age group. Stereotype threat may thus be an important barrier to technology acceptance and usage in late adulthood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Early online date7 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2021


  • Ageing
  • ageism
  • stereotype threat
  • structural equation modelling
  • technology acceptance model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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