Feedback from video display terminals, performance control and stress in text preparation in the printing industry


Department of Psychology, Institute of Occupational Health, Haartmaninkatu I, SF-00290 Helsinki 29, Finland.


The study investigated the impact of computer technology on work content, feedback, performance control, and mental strain involved in text preparation in printing shops. A total of 218 perforator typesetters, video display typesetters, proofreaders and photocompositors were surveyed with a questionnaire including scales on work characteristics, job satisfaction and perceived symptoms. A subsample of 90 persons was then submitted to measurements of vigilance, made with the critical flicker frequency technique three times a day, and to an evaluation of psychomotor performance (Bourdon-Wiersma Vigilance Test) twice a day. The subjects assessed their state on a rating scale at the end of the workday.

The employees applying computer technology assessed the challenge, self-determination and satisfaction of their work as higher than those applying traditional methods. Vigilance was significantly lowered during a day only among the perforator typesetters. Their daily self-ratings were also the most negative. It seems likely that, in text preparation tasks with minimal variety, stress is diminished by the use of visual display terminals, which make feedback and control over performance possible. Although the groups did not differ with respect to perceived chronic symptoms, on the whole the use of computer technology seems to influence the process of text preparation favourably.