Smartphones Say A Lot About Our Personalities

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People judge other people with what they own. House, car, clothes, etc. – all these material things seem to give people the right to draw conclusions on someone’s personality.

As people ride the wave of technological innovation, judgmental people now include what smartphone or mobile device an individual owns in their criteria for social identity.

Sociology associate professor Coye Cheshire of the Berkeley School of Information said identity is closely linked into these kinds of choices.

apple iphone

Four generations of iPhones: (from left to right) original, 3G, 4, and 5. Featured image by Yutaka Tsutano / Flickr (CC)

The Apple iPhone has been an indicator of approved or superior status among consumers, Cheshire added.

Moreover, mobile device owners often see Apple devices as the top-tier consumer products when it comes to gadgetry.

Cheshire said an iPhone fits for people who do not have the luxury of tinkering with menus. But it does not necessarily mean an iPhone owner only understands little about technology and mobile devices. It rather advertises they have more important things to do with their time.

Internet behavior analytics firm Hunch said people who don’t own a device that runs on iOS, the mobile operating system of Apple devices, seem to have formed a hipster attitude towards Apple products.

In 2011 owners of Apple products accounted for 32 percent of 15,818 respondents in a survey. They skewed above the age of 35 and were more likely to be females with graduate degrees compared to owners of other consumer products.

According to the study, iPhone owners are more likely to be liberalists and earn more than $200,000 a year on average. They also enjoy an expensive lifestyle and consider themselves high-maintenance.

When the iPhone came out, it actually helped increase the sales of all smartphones. It redefined users’ view of a smartphone and became a status symbol in our society, said Internet economics Ph.D. candidate Roslyn Layton of the University of Copenhagen.

On the contrary, Android users seem to skew more in rural areas. The study found they were 86 percent more likely to live in a rural area than iPhone users. They also are more likely to be conservatives – 20 percent more than iPhone users, and are 10 percent more likely be males.

Google, owner of the Android mobile operating system, confirmed the data when it released an Admob report in 2010 about men accounting for 73 percent of Android users.

Google’s findings revealed people who use Android phones were 71 percent more likely to have stayed in their homeland than iPhone users.

Interestingly, the report said Android users were also 50 percent more likely to use Yahoo mail than iPhone owners. And Google owns Gmail, a deeply integrated emailing service in the Android operating system.

However, Android smartphone owners were more likely to own a pet – 12 percent more than iPhone owners. And they tend to like Comedy Central than owners of their Apple counterpart.

Despite the Apple product’s successful run, both in market share and sales revenue, Android users will continuously point out mistakes on the iPhone.

Marketing professor Brent McFerran of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Bussiness said most people have groups of people they either aspire to be, or disassociate from through direct opposition.

The Hunch survey seemed to demote BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices. It labeled BlackBerry users as introverts who live in cities and like to travel, and Windows Phone users as suburban moms who are politically restrained.

In December 2011, NBC reported an incident where robbers stole mobile devices from the Columbia University campus and handed back all smartphones, except for the iPhones. Apple iPhones have high resale values compared to other smartphones.

Cheshire wondered how BlackBerry owners felt after the incident. BlackBerry (previously Research In Motion, or RIM) will surely hope its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones – Z10 and Q10 – will be appraised more by thieves and valued by shoppers. BlackBerry already revealed its new smartphones, but it has yet to announce the release of a new tablet running on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

Experts say drawing conclusions based on gadgets people use says a lot about wealth and prerogative.

Cheshire said most of what we judge upon are distinctions in class and status expectations.


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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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