The personality traits of instrumentality and expressiveness in relation to microcomputer playfulness



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Differences between females and males in computer use have long been a concern. Over the past twenty years, the accessibility gap has closed and women’s use of the technology has equaled and in some cases surpassed men’s computer use. However, differences in patterns of use still remain. This study looked at underlying factors that may be involved in maintaining differences in use. Specifically, this study focused on differences in gender and gender role personality traits as they relate to microcomputer playfulness. Gender role personality traits are defined as the acceptance of stereotypic gender descriptors as applying to oneself according to the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ). The PAQ provides participants with ratings on the expressive (feminine) and instrumental (masculine) scales. The relationship between the scales yields the gender role personality traits expressive (high expressive, low instrumental), instrumental (low expressive, high instrumental), androgynous (high on both), or undifferentiated (low on both). Microcomputer playfulness or computer playfulness is defined as the tendency to be “spontaneous, inventive and imaginative when interacting with a personal computer.” It is measured by responses on the Computer Playfulness Scale. This study found that computer playfulness varied depending upon setting with participants being most playful when using a computer at home and least playful when using a computer at work. Those who score in the androgynous range of the PAQ also scored higher on the CPS than those who scored in the undifferentiated range. Finally, this study found that males tended to score higher in computer playfulness than females. Participants were also interviewed about their experiences of gender role personality traits and computer playfulness. Discussion of these results and suggestions for further research are included.