Exploring the Relationship between Emotions and the Acquisition of Computer Knowledge

May. 25, 2008

Source: Computers & Education, Volume 50 No. 4, p. 1269–1283. May 2008
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)


Most computer users have to deal with major software upgrades every 6–18 months. Given the pressure of having to adjust so quickly and so often, it is reasonable to assume that users will express emotional reactions such as anger, desperation, anxiety, or relief during the learning process. To date, the primary emotion studied with respect to computer knowledge has been anxiety or fear.

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship among a broader range of emotions (anger, anxiety, happiness, and sadness) and the acquisition of nine computer related skills.

Three research questions were addressed:
1. Can computer-related emotions be assessed reliably, and with validity?
2. To what extent are emotions present when software is being learned?
3. How are emotions related to computer knowledge acquisition?


Pre- and post-surveys were given to 184 preservice education students (123 females, 61 males) enrolled in 8 month, integrated laptop program.
The participants were from a variety of cultural backgrounds (20% reported that their first language was not English), ranging in age from 23 to 58 years.
81% of the subjects reported having 10 or more years experience using computers.


Happiness was expressed most of the time – anxiety, anger, and sadness were reported sometimes.
Anxiety and anger levels decreased significantly, while computer knowledge increased.
All four emotions were significantly correlated with all nine computer knowledge areas at the beginning of the program, but happiness and anxiety were the only emotions significantly related to change in computer knowledge.

Updated: Dec. 07, 2008