13 July 2012

Why we missed Steve Jobs

Colchester Campus

Exactly why there was such widespread public mourning over the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is explored in new research from the University.

The fact that the vast majority of people who grieved his loss around the globe only knew him through his devices prompted researcher Dr Andy Przybylski to look into the motivational reasons behind their feelings of sadness and loss.

The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, aimed to broaden the understanding of the emotional connections people have with Apple products and how it linked to their feelings when Steve Jobs died in October last year.
Dr Przybylski, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Essex, typically studies the motivational reasons behind playing video games but was inspired to do the research when he heard Steve Jobs had died and thought it was strange that he felt a sense of loss given he had never met him.

He carried out three studies involving more than 2,800 people to explore who was most saddened by Jobs’ death and to explore the understanding of personal relationships with technology and the fact that Apple users felt emotionally-connected to their devices.
What Dr Przybylski found was that the people who were most affected by Jobs’ death were the people who found Apple devices to be psychologically need-satisfying, that is, those who used their Apple devices to help make meaningful decisions for themselves and also those that connected them to people who matter the most to them.

“It is really about what psychologically needs-satisfying experiences people have with their with Apple devices,” he explained. The research also found many Apple users saw the death of Jobs as the loss of somebody who continued to surprise them with something new and fun, yet practical. “They thought their future was really going to be affected by this,” added Dr Przybylski.

This study is the start of further research by Dr Przybylski into how people are emotionally-connected to digital devices and what value they attach to these objects.


Note to Editors

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 872400 or e-mail comms@essex.ac.uk.

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