Science Explains Why We Mourned For Steve Jobs

Science Explains Why We Mourned For Steve Jobs

Dr. Andrew K. Przybylski tries to explain why we all mourned Steve Jobs’s death.

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.

  • Tallest_Skil

    The only person proven capable of enacting a unique, innovative, and non-stolen vision in the entire tech industry died.

    If you weren’t sad about that, you had problems.

  • Kenton Presbrey

    In my opinion, if you didn’t grieve or at least get bummed out by Steve Jobs passing then you are just an idiot. Unless you live in the middle of the woods somewhere, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this, Steve has directly effected your life.

    Steve was an extremely influential person who changed the entire world. We can’t say for sure that the Personal Computer and other devices he help to pioneer wouldn’t be around without him but there is no guarantee that they would.

    Whether you are a fAndroid, Windard or someone who loves Apple, we all owe thanks to Steve Jobs for his contributions to the tech community. And without him, we would all be stuck on Windows PCs, yuck.

  • theobserving

    It was very unfortunate that he passed, particularly at such an early age. I was working at an Apple store at the time, and people would actually say “sorry for your loss.” to us when they’d come in. To me, though, that seemed a little odd. It was nice, to be sure, but at the same time, none of us knew him personally, and, ultimately, it didn’t change how we did our work.

    It’s unfortunate whenever anyone dies, it’s just that some people get more attention for it than others.

  • jmanes

    I was more sad about the death of Dennis Ritchie.. The people back in the day who created UNIX were truly heros of mine. I’m still sad that Ritchie is gone.

  • jmanes

    The only person proven capable of enacting a unique, innovative, and non-stolen vision in the entire tech industry died.

    If you weren’t sad about that, you had problems.

    He was a good visionary. It did sadden me when he died, but I don’t think he was the “only” person. Dennis Ritchie was innovative for example.

  • layPhone

    I find it amazing what some people feel they need to research. When a famous person dies people feel connected to them because they get to feel like they know them and the person has made an impact on their lives. It is no different than Princess Di or Michael Jackson, three people that died long before their time and made an impact on culture…

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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