Many of us have had the experience of talking to — or, more like, swearing at — our computer as if it had a mind of its own. Some of us, ahem, have even treated our iPhones or Kindles like they were willfully trying to screw with us. As relatable as this impulse is, though, a new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that it’s lonely and anxious people who are most likely to anthropomorphize technological gadgets.
But, according to researchers, when we’re reminded of our close connections with other people, regardless of how lonely or anxious we are, we are less likely to humanize these inanimate devices.
“We think this work really highlights how important feeling socially connected is to people and the lengths people will go to ‘reconnect’ when they feel disconnected, and it reminds us of the value of our close relationships,” said lead researcher Jennifer Bartz of McGill University in a press release.
The researchers put 178 participants through a series of questionnaires that measure things like a person’s loneliness and self-esteem. Then, half the participants were asked to think about an “important” and “meaningful” relationship and answer a bunch of questions about that particular person. The other half went through the same exercise, only they answered questions about a less-close relationship — someone with whom they were only casually acquainted.
SOURCE: Tracy Clark-Flory