This study seeks to gain a holistic understanding of how older Korean-American adults' socio-demographic factors affect their attitudes toward the computer. The research was guided by four main questions: (1) What do participants describe as the consequences of their using the computer? (2) What attitudes toward the computer do participants describe and reveal? (3) How has direct exposure to computer operations and usage affected inexperienced users' attitudes toward the computer? and (4) How have socio-demographic factors shaped participants' attitudes toward the computer?
This study utilized grounded theory to analyze the responses of sixteen older Korean-American adults in Baltimore, Maryland. One-on-one personal interviews were conducted with 16 participants of the Baltimore Christian Center for Korean Older Adults and Calvary Presbyterian Church.
The findings showed that older Korean-American adults' consequences of using the computer made them recognize both benefits and harms associated with computer use. This process included their direct and vicarious computer experiences. It affected their formation of "perceived consequences of computer use" into four modes: (a) abundant (b) adequate (c) insignificant and (d) counterproductive. Also, they tended to have four modes of attitudes: (a) enthusiastic (b) receptive (c) ambivalent and (d) unreceptive toward the computer.
Computer-inexperienced participants showed attitude changes after having computer presentation sessions. The changes revealed three forms of attitude change: upward change from unreceptive to enthusiastic toward the computer, status quo, and downward change from ambivalent to unreceptive attitude. In this process, each participant experienced application of consequences, benefits, and harms into his or her own practical situation, and their decisive factors affected their formation of attitudes. Those decisive factors were their standards and values of late-life management such as health status, management of daily living activity, and practice of religious faith.
Interestingly, participants' socio-demographic factors affected their formation of attitude toward the computer utilizing two modes, utilizing perceived factors and latent factors. In terms of a path utilizing perceived factors, participants recognized and understood that their own perceived factors such as age, health condition, gender, intellectual curiosity, learning environment, religious faith, and types of temperament, were affecting their attitudes toward the computer. In terms of utilizing latent factors, participants didn't recognize the presence of unrevealed factors, including Socio-demographic Status (SES) when they were young and type of immigration to the United States. These two latent factors strongly affected their formation of attitudes toward the computer without the awareness of the participants.
These findings may be applicable for administrators, instructors, and program planners for older adults' computer training and may also affect choice of instructional methods, environmental preparation, content of training, and evaluation of computer training. Further research is recommended, including cross-cultural research with different ethnic groups, the process of attitude changes towards computers, application of longitudinal and observation methods, and studies that specify the duration, frequency, and types of computer use.