Evaluating Coworkers: Effects of Coworkers’ Age and Willingness to Adapt to Technology in the Workplace

Theresa Katherine Mokrzan


Age stereotypes are common in the workplace and can include the belief that older adults are unable or unwilling to effectively adapt to changing workplace technology (Ryan, Szechtman, & Bodkin, 1992). Using an experimental design, the current study examined young adults’ perceptions of younger and older coworkers who were either willing or unwilling to learn and adapt to new technology in the workplace. Participants read a scenario about a 25- or 75-year-old coworker who was willing or unwilling to adapt to a new workplace technological system. Participants then reported their perceptions of the coworker’s personality characteristics and coworker’s workplace performance. For coworkers described as unwilling to adapt to technology, the younger coworker’s personality characteristics and workplace performance were perceived more negatively than the older coworker. For coworkers described as willing to adapt to technology, the personality characteristics and workplace performance of the younger and older coworkers were perceived equally as favorably. Results suggest individuals hold more negative attitudes toward younger workers, not older workers, who are unwilling to adapt to technology. Young adults’ expectations that their age-relevant colleagues will learn and adapt to new technological advances provide novel directions for future research.


Age Stereotypes, Older Employees, Technology, Workplace

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