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Gordon Smith

About Gordon Smith

Journalist by day, cunning linguist by night. A passion for politics, hypnotically involved in human rights. An Australian born with a Japanese tongue, hoping to hold the big wigs in government to account.

Approx Reading Time-10A new study has revealed our smartphone choice says more about us than we’d ever have imagined. But it gets worse. Much, much worse.


It’s the age old battle; a natural continuation of the decades-long Mac-PC war. The first world has split on perhaps the greatest question of our generation: iOS or Android?

90 percent of smartphones in people’s pockets around the world run one of the two operating systems, and as of July of this year, iOS and Android account for 35 percent and 60 percent of Australian mobile phone use.

Although marketing from the two camps may have always framed itself in different ways, the psychology behind the pair has never been empirically studied.

That was until this week, when a study by Lancaster University in the UK released findings by psychologists on the personality of smartphone users.

Dr David Ellis, PhD, from the University’s Department of Psychology, says the study showed that there were certain “clues” to a person’s traits based on their preferred handset.

These “clues” reveal a typical user’s gender, how honest they are, and even how outgoing the user tends to be.

Dr David Ellis said: “In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that an individual’s choice of smartphone operating system can provide useful clues when it comes to predicting their personality and other individual characteristics.”

In the two-part study, researchers gave 500 smartphone users several questionnaires about themselves, along with their attitudes towards their phone.

It found that users of Apple’s iOS tended to be younger than their Android peers, more than twice as likely to be female, and more extroverted. iPhone owners also tend to see their device as a status object, while simultaneously being less concerned about how popular their phone may be.

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Conversely, Android users tend to more often than not be male, and older than those on the iOS team, and are also more honest and more agreeable. Moreover, they are less likely to break rules for personal gain, and are less interested as a whole in wealth and status.

Just imagine if those findings were applied to real world scenarios.

Could we see employers asking prospective employees what kind of phone they use? The death of the lie detector, in its place a question of smartphone preference?

Probably not, but the mind wanders.

Scarier still, the second study saw the psychologists develop a computer program, able to predict what smartphone a participant-owned based on the findings of the personality study.

Finally, we know why it is that we feel so uncomfortable letting other people use our devices. Miraculously, it’s not the incriminating search history, or the vintage memes in your camera roll.

It’s because, as co-lead psychologist Heather Shaw found, we see our smartphones as miniature versions of ourselves.

“It is becoming more and more apparent that smartphones are becoming a mini digital version of the user,” she said.

“Many of us don’t like it when other people attempt to use our phones because it can reveal so much about us.”

Seems the study didn’t just find the roots of a dystopian, smartphone-dominated future. I for one welcome this future. At least we’ll be able to be brainwashed and spied upon in relative peace, with the heaving external noise of the city somehow drowned out, so community only exists in the individual.

…Hang on.


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