Why are people biased against new technologies?


one question Matthew Fishera psychologist at Southern Methodist University who studies the strategies people use to digest the vast amounts of information they encounter, and how the technology people perceive your own abilities.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Fisher

why Are people biased against new technology?

TonWhat he found important from our recent research, published in psychological science, is it that people seem to have this status quo bias when it comes to technology. That’s why we named it “The Golden Age is over”. Essentially, technology invented before humans was born was given this status, status quo status, so it was only assumed to be part of how the world worked. People tend to have more positive comments about the technology. They don’t really understand a world that doesn’t exist, and thus evaluate it more favorably, in stark contrast to the technology they invent after birth. People tend to be skeptical of these technologies.

The first thing we tried, and I think it provided the clearest evidence for our story, was to use a real but unfamiliar technology — aerogel — to dynamically show our subjects whose ages we had recorded. I think it was actually invented in the 80’s, but no one really heard of it or knew exactly what it did. We use it to our advantage. We either tell them it was invented 15 years before or after they were born. We are fixing the actual properties of the technology. If the status quo story is true, they should be less suspicious of it if it was invented before they were born, and more suspicious of it if it was invented after they were born. In fact, this is exactly what we found. Tell people it was invented earlier, and they rate it better. Saying it was invented after they were born, they are now skeptical of its impact on society.

In a follow-up study, we showed people more than 60 different technologies, then collected information about when they were born, their exposure to the technology, etc., and this pattern is emerging. Take your smartphone. If we consider who is discussing the effects of screens on our well-being and concentration, it tends to be older adults. Of course, if you zero in on any particular technology, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on — is it just that older people are more likely to criticize smartphones? But what really matters is when people are born relative to these technologies. This trend occurs when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

The data we have shows that it is incremental, and the further away the technology emerges, the more skeptical you become. That is forward. Then the sooner it is, the more accepting you are and the less suspicious you are. Moreover, extrapolating from our findings, this suggests that this historical era, relative to other eras, will introduce technology with particular caution or discernment, based solely on purely demographic data, in which older people increasingly outnumber younger ones. However, it’s not immediately obvious to me how much this will affect the actual industry of production technology. For example, many people are skeptical of social media, and it seems to be more popular than ever.

If I were to speculate, I’d say that status quo thinking can help in some ways because it basically ensures that things that have stood the test of time are preserved. A status quo bias against things that have been around for a long time will only allow the filter of time to sort out what’s worth keeping and what’s not. It has a coherent logic, but of course, like any trend, it can be overused. If you place too much emphasis on past values ​​and don’t allow any new innovations to emerge, that’s certainly a problem. I think I grew up after certain inventions, like television. That’s a part of life that you haven’t even really questioned. Now raising my own kids, looking back on my childhood and thinking about all the time I spent sitting in front of the TV. I was like, “If I could play the piano right now, and then switch those hours, I think I’ll switch it.”

Main image: Elenabsl/Shutterstock

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