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Fallen in love with your PC?

You're not alone, research shows

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People get so emotionally attached to computers that they are prepared to queue to use their favourite one.

This truly baffling* finding comes from researchers at Pennsylvania State University. They wanted to know just how far people would go to use a particular machine so they monitored students using the university's 800 computer terminals, looking for interesting patterns in their behaviour.

They found that people prefer to use one or two particular machines, even when others are available. Some students would even queue for access to 'their' computer. According to Professor Shyam Sundar, this is because we tend to attribute human characteristics to computers. (Computers, of course, hate it when we do this.)

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Sundar said that our habit of anthropomorphising our digital friends has implications for how we treat information on the Web.

"We increasingly view computers as sources of information not just mediums of information. We attribute social characteristics and treat them as autonomous," he said. This, he cautioned, could lead to people placing too much faith in information garnered from the Web, to the extent that we could chose it above a more reliable alternative.

The study could also be useful for advertisers: Professor Sundar suggests that companies would do well to play on our emotional attachement to our machines by marketing them as something that grows with us, rather than as disposable tools. ®

*As in: Surely there are enough things we have to queue for already...do we have to invent extra ones for ourselves?

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