Most of us never had the opportunity to meet Steve Jobs, but as Apple fans and users, we knew a lot about the company’s co-founder and former CEO. Even though we didn’t know him personally, we all felt an immense sense of loss when Jobs passed away last October.
In an effort to try to understand why Jobs’s death had such an affect on his fans, Dr. Andrew K. Przybylski from the University of Essex has conducted a three-part study that looks at how we felt connected to Jobs though his devices.
Przybylski’s introduction explains what his study was designed to establish:
The goal of the present research was to empirically investigate how the death of Jobs emotionally impacted the general population and especially those who use the devices he helped create. Three studies were designed to explore who in the general population was most saddened by Jobs’s death (Study 1), and why individuals who use Apple devices experienced personal sadness (Studies 2 and 3).
The study was conducted using an online interview that was administered to members of the 185,000-person YouGov panel in Great Britain. It included both men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 90 years old.
What Przybylski found was that there were significant differences in how we felt when Jobs passed away, with some feeling little sadness, and others grieving the loss. Individuals from a high socioeconomic status — or those likely to be Apple users, according to Przybylski — tended to report more grief than others.
The results also showed that the psychological affordances that we gain from Apple’s devices appeared to influence the emotional response we felt towards Jobs’s passing.
When Apple devices connected users to those they cared about, and provided them with meaningful choices, these users felt emotionally connected to their devices and felt sadness about Jobs’s death.
Przybylski’s study and his results are an interesting read, especially to those who found it hard to understand why they were so touched by Jobs, and why they were so moved by the news of his passing.