Resistance to technology rhymes with resistance to change. This is essentially what two American researchers have demonstrated, respectively in psychology and marketing. By conducting four successive experimental studies, the duo analyzed the impact of a person’s age on the way they judge technologies, as well as the impact of the date of creation of these technologies. The subjects of these experiments evaluated whether innovations as diverse as the Nintendo DS, the Xbox 360, the pacemaker, the floppy disk, the audio cassette, the microwave oven or even the electric toothbrush have an impact positive on society.
Status quo bias influences how a technology is judged
A first study first found that a technology is rated higher if the subjects think it was invented 15 years before their birth rather than 15 years after. The researchers attribute this trend to status quo bias. “In fact, people evaluate technology positively when they are not old enough to remember the introduction of this technology into society. On the other hand, technologies invented during a person’s lifetime undermine the status quo and are therefore evaluated less favorably.
The following studies have shown that the age of people also has an influence on the way they judge a technology. Thus, being older at the time of the invention corresponds to less favorable evaluations. This effect is stronger in people with the highest expression of status quo bias.
More favorable evaluation in case of early experience
The timing of exposure to a technology over a lifetime also matters. Early experience with a technology thus leads to a more favorable perception. “Being born earlier in relation to the date of invention and having been exposed earlier in life increases the likelihood that people view the technology as part of the status quo,” the researchers summarize. For whom these results can shed light, in particular, on the fear that artificial intelligence arouses today.
When communicating or promoting a new technology, it should therefore be linked to existing technologies. In the eyes of the general public, it would thus be seen as associated with the status quo.